On-demand PrEP – Powerful HIV protection when you decide

By Chris Williams, updated 6 hours 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?

It’s not your everyday 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.

That’s where on-demand PrEP’s short-term protection could be really useful. If you have sex occasionally, it might be your thing. It’s safe and effective like regular PrEP but with fewer pills.

Which PrEP is the right one for you? With three ways to use PrEP, uncover 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.

Also, it’s not suitable for for those with an active Hepatitis B infection. Discuss your status with a doctor and enquire 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 quantity of pills you use are different.

“Both daily and on-demand PrEP use the same highly effective pills to protect against HIV.”

On-demand PrEP is ideal if you have sex once a week or less often, and you can wait at least two hours before having sex after taking the medication — it takes two 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 two PrEP pills at once — a double dose — between two and 24 hours before sex
  • take one more PrEP pill 24 hours after the first dose
  • take one final pill 24 hours after the second dose

That’s four pills over three days, following a 2+1+1 dosing pattern! But 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 the first dose might mean you’re not protected against HIV.

Always ensure you take your first dose at least two hours before sex. It’s OK to take this more than two 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

Want to continue?

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 one pill every 24 hours after the first dose as long as you’re having sex. After your last encounter, take one pill daily for two days. Be sure to always take your pill at the same time each day.

So, from 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

Is on-demand PrEP right for me?

On-demand PrEP could be right for you if:

  • you want HIV prevention for specific encounters or short periods
  • you don’t always use condoms
  • you don’t need daily PrEP for your sex frequency
  • you prefer not taking pills every day
  • you want control over when you’re protected

When you’re in demand, think on-demand!

What now?

To benefit from on-demand PrEP:

  • ensure you have enough pills before starting
  • stick to the 2+1+1 dosing schedule without skipping 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 two hours you’re protected against HIV. Set reminders for your follow-up doses and prepare for the night ahead.

Any doctor or sexual health nurse can prescribe PrEP in Australia, though not all might know about it. Resources to help clinicians are available online. If your doctor doesn’t know about PrEP, there are letters you can print with information on how they can prescribe PrEP for you.

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.

Interested? Start a conversation with a doctor or sexual health specialist today.

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 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 do I get PrEP in Australia?

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