What you need to know about COVID-19 and PrEP

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PULSE Clinic

PULSE Clinic

Established in Bangkok, PULSE Clinic is a gay-owned private clinic whose mission is to promote and provide excellence in standards of care and education in sexual wellbeing, HIV and related infections, and to actively engage in the formulation of public health policy and research, with the aim of reducing HIV disease burden worldwide.

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How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect your use of PrEP? We answer some of your burning questions below:

Q: Can PrEP prevent or treat COVID-19?

A: No. PrEP can only prevent HIV, it does not prevent COVID-19. Do not increase your regular PrEP dosage to prevent COVID-19. It does not treat COVID-19 either. Do not share PrEP with anyone to prevent or treat COVID-19. There is no evidence to support the idea of HIV-negative people taking anti-retrovirals to prevent anything else. PrEP is proved and recommended to prevent you from HIV infection. PrEP should be taken as directed and there is no current evidence that PrEP is effective against COVID-19.

Q: Can I stock up my PrEP or HIV medications during lockdown?

A: Yes, you can. Visit your local clinic or wherever you get your PrEP from to ask for more information.

Q: Can I pause or stop my PrEP during lockdown?

A: Yes, you can if you’re not having sex. Before you stop, however, cis men should carry on taking PrEP for another two sex-free days. You can also choose to take the pill for 28 more sex-free days. If you take PrEP for vaginal or frontal protection, you should take PrEP for seven sex-free days before you pause or stop.

Q: Can change from daily dose to PrEP on demand?

A: Yes, you can. Only if your PrEP is TDF/FTC (Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarat/Emtricitabine, that comes in many brands such as TRUVADA, TENO-EM, and other PrEP made in India; Ricovir-Em, Renvir-Em, Tavin-Em). Only cis men who have sex with other men can switch to PrEP on demand. The new PrEP or Descovy (TAF/FTC, Tenofovir Alafenamide (TAF) 25 mg + emtricitabine (FTC) 200 mg) cannot be used on demand.

Q: How to take PrEP on demand?

A: Two to 24 hours before sex, you take two pills. About 24 hours after you have sex, you take one pill. Another 24 hours later, you take another one pill.

Q: How can I restart PrEP?

A: If you didn’t have sex since stopping, then it’s okay to restart PrEP as usual. Get tested for HIV again before you restart. If you’re a cis man, you should take a double dose at least two hours before sex if you want to have sex straight away. Then continue with either a daily dose or on demand (2-1-1) dosing. Everyone else (women, transgenders) should take daily doses for seven days before sex for vaginal/frontal protection.

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