On-demand PrEP – Powerful HIV protection when you decide

By Chris Williams, updated 10 months ago in Health / Sexual health

white PrEP pill bottle on blue background with strong arms in shadow

You’ve probably heard about PrEP — the highly effective HIV prevention strategy that combines using medicine with regular sexual health testing. But what if there was a way to achieve the same powerful protection without having to use medicine every day?

Now there is. Introducing on-demand PrEP — a way to maximise your protection against HIV when you decide!

On-demand means you’re in control

Thousands of guys across Australia already take a single PrEP pill once a day, safe in the knowledge they’re protected against HIV no matter what the day brings.

But not everyone’s the same.

Maybe you’re not keen on using medicine every day. Or maybe your sex life doesn’t warrant paying to use PrEP all the time.

Or perhaps you just want to benefit from powerful HIV protection when you decide you want it — Christmas, birthdays, a special event, or for a sexy night with someone special.

Same PrEP, new choices — On-demand PrEP | Emen8

Is on-demand PrEP for everyone?

When used as advised on-demand PrEP is equally effective at preventing HIV as daily PrEP! Though it’s best to check in with a doctor to make sure it’s suitable for you.

We know from the research that on-demand PrEP is only suitable for cisgender guys who have sex with other guys. Data shows on-demand PrEP is not suitable for people having vaginal or front hole sex.

For trans and gender diverse people, cisgender women and heterosexual men, daily PrEP is recommended instead.

Lastly, on-demand PrEP is not recommended for anyone with an active Hepatitis B infection. Discuss your Hepatitis B status with your doctor and find out about getting vaccinated.

What’s involved?

Just like daily PrEP, on-demand PrEP makes use of the same highly effective prescription medicine to protect you against HIV. What’s different is how many you pills you take and when you take them.

It’s ideal if you have sex once a week or less, and if you can plan or delay sex for at least two hours while you wait for the medication to start working.

“Just like daily PrEP, on-demand PrEP makes use of the same highly effective prescription medicine to protect you against HIV.”

How on-demand PrEP dosing works:

  • take two PrEP pills at once — a double dose — between (no less than) two and (no more than) 24 hours before you have sex; then
  • take one more PrEP pill 24 hours after your first dose; then
  • take one final pill 24 hours after the second dose

That’s just four PrEP pills taken over three days, starting with that essential double dose to boost the amount of medicine in your body before you have sex. Following the dosing is as simple as remembering 2–1–1!

With on-demand PrEP, every dose counts. You’ve got to take the right amount at the right time. Having sex too soon after your first dose or missing a dose could mean you’re not protected against HIV. As always, it’s best to follow instructions from your doctor.

Want to keep going?

If you want to extend your protection, it’s easy to keep going with on-demand PrEP for as long as you need!

Continue taking one pill at the same time every 24 hours after your first dose for as long as you’re having sex. Then, after the last time you have sex, take one pill a day for two days, sticking to the same 24-hour intervals.

So what started as 2-1-1 becomes 2-1-1-1-1-1… for as long as you need! Easy.

If your circumstances change and you need HIV prevention for longer, there are other ways to use PrEP. Check out Same PrEP, new choices: on-demand, periodic or daily

Is on-demand PrEP right for me?

There are many reasons why on-demand PrEP could be right for you:

  • you want HIV prevention for a single encounter or for any amount of sex during a short period of time
  • you don’t always use condoms
  • you don’t need daily PrEP for the amount of sex you have
  • you don’t want to take pills every day
  • you just want peace of mind with HIV protection when you decide

So when you’re in demand, think on-demand!

What now?

On-demand PrEP works. But to protect you against HIV you’ve got to use it properly.

Before starting on-demand PrEP make sure you’ve got access to all of the pills you need. It’s important to follow the dosing schedule carefully without missing any doses.

Even if you’re in the mood and ‘just looking’, it’s OK to take your first double dose anyway. In just two hours you’re protected against HIV. That’s long enough to set reminders for your next two doses and check out who’s online. Whether do or don’t get lucky, you’ll be ready for wherever your night takes you!

“On-demand PrEP works. But to protect you against HIV you’ve got to use it properly.”

Any Australian doctor or sexual health nurse can prescribe PrEP, though not all might know about it. Resources to help clinicians, including clinical guidelines for prescribing PrEP, are available online. If you’re not sure if your doctor knows about PrEP there are letters you can print with information on testing, how to prescribe PrEP and where to access it.

Using on-demand PrEP involves checking in with a doctor once every three months for routine HIV and STI tests. Those STI tests are important because PrEP protects against HIV, though it doesn’t protect against other STIs. Using a condom every time you have sex helps protect against most STIs.

Where to find help and support

If you think PrEP could be right for you, start a conversation with a doctor or sexual health specialist today.

For friendly advice and information, talk to us online, on Facebook, on Messenger or get in touch through our contact form. Alternatively, check out Got a PrEP question? Here’s where to find support

How to get PrEP

PrEP is available across Australia now. Click on your state/territory for information on how to get PrEP: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA