PrEP has changed the lives of millions of people worldwide who use the medication to avoid contracting HIV. Designed to be taken daily, PrEP is over 99% effective against the contraction of HIV.
However, we live in the real world, and there will be days when we take our pills late or *gasp* even miss a pill. We’ve poured over studies to find out if you can take PrEP two hours late, three hours late, and even a week late.
Before you read this article, we want to remind you that any medical decisions and questions about PrEP—or any other medication you’re on—should always be discussed with your healthcare practitioner.
This article uses scholarly sources to give you the most up-to-date information on PrEP, but taking all prescriptions as directed by your healthcare provider is integral.
You likely already know about the two types of PrEP, but if not, here are some basics:
If you have more questions about what PrEP is and its effectiveness, check out our PrEP FAQ.
You can take PrEP 3 hours late and still be protected against HIV. PrEP starts to lose its effectiveness after 24 hours, with those who miss a pill every day for a week after a month of taking it on schedule going down to 90% effectiveness. However, if you also take PEP, you need to take your prescription simultaneouslyat the same time each day as directed by your healthcare provider.
Yes, you can take your PrEP pill a few hours late so that, so you will never again will you need to search for, “Can I take my prep 2 hours late” again. The main goal of PrEP is to aim for taking it every day, but your body isn’t going to instantly make you susceptible to HIV if you take a pill late.skip a pill. The most important time to take your PrEP pills every day is during the first 30 days (about four4 and a half weeks). This allows your body to build up the medication, so if you miss a dose here or there, you’re still protected (a process known as ‘steady state’).
You should take your PrEP pill within 12 hours of missing your original dose to ensure you keep that 99% effective rate up or to get your body used to the pill if you’re newly taking them. If you find yourself more than 12 hours after your missed dose, skip taking the pill and get back on your normal routine the following day. Again, studies show that PrEP begins to lose its effectiveness after 24 hours, dropping down to 97%, so as soon as you remember to take the pill, you’ll want to get back on schedule.
One of the most common scenarios people face on PrEP is missing a dose and then wondering if they need to take two pills when they finally remember. Or, they forget they took a dose and take another one a couple of hours later. The good thing is that you’re not going to risk injuring yourself if you take a second dose of PrEP. The bad thing is that you’re much more likely to face side effects, including:
If you miss a dose, you’ll be fine. Don’t double up because the process won’t make the medication more effective; instead, it just makes you feel sick. Again, if you have questions about this at all, always check in with your prescribing doctor.
There’s no right time to take PrEP. TheWhat time you take your prescription depends entirely on your schedule. Your main goal is to taketaking it at the same time each day. For example, if you work nights and sleep in on your days off, you probably wouldn’t want to take it in the early morning hours. Instead, taking it in the early evening before you go to work and when you’re likely to be awake even when off will likely help you stick to a regular dosage schedule.
Many rumours are floating around about the effectiveness of PrEP for people with vaginas. The World Health Organization relies upon a study completed in 2016 by Dr. Mackenzie Cottrell et al. that showed vaginal tissue absorbs the medication more quickly. However, the same study found that women who routinely miss doses can reduce their protection by as much as 33%, even when their rectal tissue is 95% protected. Just like those having anal sex, people with vaginas should be aiming to reach a “steady state,” which takes an estimated 21-30 days for most people to reach.
As of 2014, an estimated 75,500 Canadians lived with HIV, and up to 20% were unaware they had it. By utilizing PrEP as part of a daily routine, rates of new HIV will decrease. Although missing a dose of PrEP will not severely throw off your body’s immunity, especially once you’ve reached a steady state, you should aim to take a PrEP pill within 12 hours of missing your regular dosage time or make sure you take your next pill at your regular time.
Do not double up on pills if you miss a dose, and remember to plan to take your pills at the same time each day for maximum efficiency. Together, we can make HIV a thing of the past.
PrEP is an effective way of preventing HIV transmission. However, it is essential to remember that it does not offer complete protection against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, it is still important to practice safe sexual behaviours, including using condoms, even when taking PrEP as part of your preventive healthcare routine.
The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Health Guide, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.