On-demand PrEP – Powerful HIV protection when you decide

By Chris Williams, updated 4 months ago in Health / Sexual health

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

You’ve probably heard of PrEP — a powerful way to prevent HIV that involves taking pills and having regular sexual health tests. But what if you could get the same protection without taking pills every day?

Now you can with on-demand PrEP — a way to stay protected against HIV when you decide!

What’s on-demand PrEP?

Some guys take one PrEP pill every day for ongoing protection against HIV — but maybe that’s not ideal for you. You might not want to take pills all the time, or maybe your sex life just doesn’t need constant PrEP.

Maybe you’d rather have easy and affordable HIV protection when you choose — like for special occasions, a hot date, or a party night out.

“It’s not your everyday PrEP!”

That’s where on-demand PrEP’s short-term protection could be really useful. It’s not your everyday PrEP! If you have sex occasionally, it might be your thing.

On-demand PrEP uses the same safe and effective pills as daily PrEP but in carefully timed, reduced doses for powerful HIV protection when you need it the most.

Which PrEP is the right one for you? There are three ways to use PrEP, and you can find your best option with our quick PrEP Selector tool.

Prepare before you’re there with on-demand PrEP – here’s how | Emen8

Is on-demand PrEP suitable for me?

When used as advised, on-demand PrEP is as effective as daily PrEP. But it’s best to consult a doctor to confirm if it’s suitable for you.

On-demand PrEP is only suitable for cisgender men who have sex with men — gay guys, bi guys, or any other guys into guys. But it’s not recommended for trans and gender diverse folks, cisgender women, or men who only have sex with women.

This means on-demand PrEP only works if you:

  • bottom for anal sex
  • top for anal sex
  • top for front hole or vaginal sex

On-demand PrEP doesn’t offer effective protection for bottoming during front hole or vaginal sex.

Also, it’s not suitable for for those with an active Hepatitis B infection. Discuss your status with a doctor and ask about free vaccinations.

How is on-demand PrEP different to daily PrEP?

Both daily and on-demand PrEP use the same highly effective pills to protect against HIV. But the timing of your doses and amount of pills you use are different — so you can get the same thrills with fewer pills!

“…get the same thrills with fewer pills!”

On-demand PrEP is ideal if you have sex once a week or less often, and you can wait at least 2 hours after taking the medication before you start having sex — it takes 2 hours for on-demand PrEP to start working in your body and provide optimal protection against HIV.

How do I use on-demand PrEP?

Interested? Here’s how it works:

  • take 2 PrEP pills at once — a double dose — between 2 and 24 hours before sex
  • take 1 more PrEP pill 24 hours after the first dose
  • take 1 final pill 24 hours after the second dose

It’s easy to remember: 2+1+1 = protection!

It’s crucial to take the right amount at the right time — every dose counts. Missing a dose of on-demand PrEP or having sex too soon after your first dose might mean you’re not protected against HIV.

“Remember, you’re not done until you 2+1+1”

Always ensure you take your first dose at least 2 hours before sex. It’s OK to take this more than 2 hours in advance if you want to plan ahead. You can take your first dose up to 24 hours before you have sex.

After you begin right, be sure to finish strong — those follow up doses are important, too. Remember, you’re not done until you 2+1+1

On demand PrEP dosing guide infographic for HIV protection by Emen8: Start with 2 pills. 2 hours later, you're ready for sex! Take 1 pill 24 hours after your first does. Take 1 pill 24 hours after your 2nd dose.

On-demand PrEP dosing example

Let’s say you’re looking for some action on a Friday night. Here’s an example of how to time your on-demand PrEP doses:

  1. Take your first double dose (2 pills) at 5pm on Friday
  2. Wait 2 hours to reach optimal protection and set a reminder for your follow-up doses
  3. After 7pm on Friday, you’re protected against HIV
  4. Enjoy sex all night long!
  5. Take 1 pill at 5pm on Saturday
  6. Take 1 pill at 5pm on Sunday

Can I use on-demand PrEP for longer?

Yes! If you want to party on and extend your protection, it’s easy. You can keep going with on-demand PrEP for as long as you need protection for. Keep taking 1 pill every 24 hours until you’ve not had sex for 2 days.

So, instead of stopping at 2+1+1, it becomes 2+1+1+1+1+1… for as long as you need!

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

What now?

To benefit from on-demand PrEP:

  • ensure you have enough pills before starting
  • stick to the 2+1+1 dosing schedule without missing any doses

Even if you’re just browsing the apps, it’s OK to take your first double dose — just in case you get lucky! In 2 hours you’re protected against HIV. Set reminders for your follow-up doses and prepare for the night ahead.

Using on-demand PrEP involves routine tests every three months for HIV and STIs. Remember, PrEP protects against HIV, not other STIs. Using condoms helps prevent most STIs. Regular sexual health testing is essential whether you do or don’t use condoms.

Interested in on-demand PrEP? Start a conversation with a doctor or sexual health specialist today.

How do I get on-demand PrEP in Australia?

PrEP is available across Australia. Any doctor or sexual health nurse can prescribe PrEP, though not all might know about it. Resources to help clinicians are available online. If your doctor doesn’t know about PrEP, there’s a letter you can show them with information on how to prescribe PrEP for you.

Click on your state/territory for details on getting PrEP: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA

Where can I find help and support with PrEP?

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 through Facebook, Messenger or get in touch through our contact form. Alternatively, check out Got a PrEP question? Here’s where to find support