FAQs and multicultural resources
Will I get side effects from PrEP?
Not everybody experiences side effects when using PrEP. If you do, they’re usually easy to tolerate and don't last long after first starting. The most common side effect is mild nausea, which rarely lasts longer than a few days. To reduce the chance of experiencing side effects, taking PrEP with or soon after a meal often helps.
Some people find taking a PrEP pill at night works if they feel tired during the day. It’s OK to try taking it at different times of day to see what works best for you, as long as you’re still taking one PrEP pill every 24 hours or as advised by your doctor.
As with any medicine, if you're concerned it's best to contact your doctor.
What if I miss a dose of PrEP?
Although it's best to use PrEP as advised, missing a dose sometimes happens. If you use daily PrEP, you don't need to take extra PrEP pills. Simply start your routine again as soon as you remember later that day or the next day. For people having anal sex, PrEP still offers extremely high levels of protection, even if you miss one dose. However, if you're missing more than one dose and taking less than four pills per week, PrEP may not be able to offer protection against HIV.
For anyone having vaginal or front hole sex, using PrEP every day is especially important. This is to ensure sufficient levels of drug concentration in vaginal/cervical tissues.
Using on-demand PrEP requires good understanding of the dosing schedule and following it carefully. It is especially important not to miss any doses when using on-demand PrEP or it might not be able to offer protection against HIV.
You can discover more about ways to use PrEP in the Use PrEP section.
What's the difference between PrEP and PEP?
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a 28-day course of medicine to help prevent HIV. PEP is taken soon after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner someone starts PEP the better, but to stand a chance of working it must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an ongoing HIV prevention program that uses medicine to help prevent HIV. PrEP is taken before a possible exposure to HIV and can be used for as long as anyone chooses to remain protected against HIV.
If you're using PrEP as advised, you don't need to access PEP even if you are exposed to HIV. Using PrEP before a possible exposure to HIV means you are already highly protected.
If you're not using PrEP and have had a possible exposure to HIV, visit the Get PEP website for information on how to access PEP as soon as possible.
What if I use alcohol or drugs with PrEP?
Alcohol and recreational drugs are not known to affect the high levels of protection against HIV when using PrEP as advised.
It’s best to discuss your use of alcohol, recreational drugs (especially if you inject drugs) or any other prescription medication with your doctor to make sure they provide you with the best possible healthcare.
Using alcohol or recreational drugs may reduce your sexual inhibitions and could mean you’re less likely to use a condom. In these situations, PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention strategy that may be easier to manage through daily routine rather than making decisions in the heat of the moment.
Should I use condoms with PrEP?
PrEP is fully compatible for use with condoms. Using PrEP in conjunction with condoms helps maximise your protection against HIV and STIs.
Condoms offer protection against HIV and some STIs when used correctly every time you have sex. If a condom isn't used, it can't offer any protection. This includes not using condoms or dams for oral sex.
PrEP provides extremely high levels of protection against HIV but it doesn't protect you against STIs. Using a condom reduces the risk of getting STIs but it doesn't eliminate this risk. This is why going for regular sexual health tests is important for everyone, even if you don't have any symptoms.
The good news about STIs is that common ones are straightforward to treat. Using PrEP involves going for routine sexual health tests at least once every three months. Testing this often will identify any STIs that require immediate treatment, ensuring your wellbeing and preventing their spread.