Tips & info for people taking Truvada or Descovy for PrEP
If you’ve been prescribed Truvada or Descovy for PrEP, there are some important things to know. This info doesn’t replace your PrEP provider though, so if you have specific medical concerns you should ask your healthcare provider or PrEP provider.
- Store the bottle at room temperature. Do not keep the bottle in a hot car or refrigerator.
- Do not share your medication with other people. It may seem like a generous thing to do, but could actually cause harm. PrEP is not safe for everyone. (Another reason why seeing your PrEP provider regularly is important!) Also, you’ve been prescribed a specific dose and you need that dose in order for PrEP to work.
HOW TO TAKE PREP
- It’s OK to take PrEP if you drink alcohol or use drugs.
- It’s OK to take PrEP with or without food.
HOW TO TAKE DAILY PREP
- Take one pill every day. Taking more than one pill a day could be harmful.
- For those engaging in anal sex, it takes a week of of continuously taking PrEP before there is enough medication in your body to decrease your chance of getting HIV.
- For those engaging in vaginal or front hole sex, it takes 30 days before there is enough medication in your body.
- Get into a routine to remember every dose: Keep your pill bottle visible, take your pill at the same time every day.
- Keep an extra pill with you for times when you’re not home when it’s time to take your dose or if there’s a chance you might stay over at someone else’s place.
HOW TO TAKE PREP 2-1-1
- Only Truvada has been studied as 2-1-1, so do not use this dosing strategy with Descovy until more is known.
- Take two pills at least two hours before having sex.
- Take one pill 24 hours later.
- Take one more pill 24 hours after that.
- If you’re having sex for an extended amount of time, continue to take a pill every 24 hours until you have two days without sex.
- This way of taking PrEP is only recommended for people having anal sex, not people having vaginal or front hole sex.
- Remember: If you’re using PrEP 2-1-1, use it the same way for every sexual encounter. Don’t pick and choose when to use the dosing strategy based on your perception of your partner’s HIV status, because you may not be correct 100% of the time.
IF YOU MISS A DOSE
- If you are taking daily PrEP, and you forget or skip a dose, take a pill when you remember.
- If you are taking PrEP 2-1-1, and you forget or skip a dose, take 2 pills immediately and call your healthcare provider for further instructions.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
Some people get side effects when taking PrEP. Symptoms are usually mild and go away after the first month on PrEP. You might experience gas, bloating, softer or more frequent stools or nausea.
If you experience symptoms related to your stomach, here are some things to try:
- Take your pill with food
- Take your pill at night before you go to sleep
It’s your choice to stop taking PrEP if you feel stopping PrEP is appropriate for you. Before you do, call your provider or the clinic that prescribed you PrEP to let them know. Your provider or our PrEP staff will tell you more about how to stop taking PrEP.
PAUSING & RESTARTING DAILY PREP
If you’ve been on daily PrEP, but stopped for a while, and are ready to resume taking PrEP once a day, make sure you get an HIV test before starting again. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to start PrEP safely if you have stopped it.
COMBINING PREP WITH OTHER PREVENTION STRATEGIES
PrEP doesn’t protect against other STIs. If you’re taking PrEP, you should also take other steps to protect yourself like using condoms and lube and getting regularly tested for STIs.
HEALTH MONITORING WHILE ON PREP
Regular visits to your PrEP provider are essential while you are taking PrEP. People taking PrEP typically see their PrEP provider once every three to six months.
Whether you’re considering PrEP for yourself or you’re a clinician thinking about offering PrEP, you might find these resources helpful.
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