- Take care of yourself
PEP drugs are very hard on the immune system. You will need to take special care to stay healthy: plenty of sleep and lots of nutritious food will help your body fight off infection.
Everyone experiences PEP side effects differently. Depending on the severity of the side effects for you, you might want to take some time off work or school. You may even need support with day-to-day activities – think about calling friends or family for help during the time you’re on PEP.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly
PEP is only effective if you take the medicine as instructed. PEP will work best when taken at the right dose, at the right time, without fail.
If you still have questions after you’ve been prescribed PEP, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider right away. Do not stop taking your prescribed doses.
- Make a plan for taking your PEP medicine on time
It is critical you take your PEP medication at the correct time, and at the correct dose. Consider using your phone’s alarm clock, a watch alarm or a computer reminder to make sure you don’t forget. Keep your PEP medication in the open so you don’t forget about it. The more doses you miss, the less chance the drugs will work.
If you’re traveling, keep your PEP drugs with you at all times. If you’re going out at night (and aren’t sure if you’ll be back home in time for your next dose), consider taking your pills with you and set a reminder on your phone, watch, or computer.
- Try not to miss a dose
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember – do not wait for the next scheduled dose and “double up”. PEP drugs are very hard on your body; never take more than one dose at one time. It is very important to take your doses on time. When PEP fails to destroy HIV, it is often because of missed doses.
- Prepare for side effects
PEP has side effects, which can vary from person to person. The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and fatigue.
If the PEP side effects become too much to handle, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. Do not stop taking PEP, and do not miss a dose without speaking to your doctor or healthcare provider.
- Other drugs and PEP
Make sure your doctor or healthcare provider knows about all prescription drugs you’re taking before you begin taking PEP.
It is important to eliminate or reduce recreational drug use while you’re on PEP; these drugs can damage your immune system, and your body can react differently to many of these drugs while on PEP. Recreational drugs can also impact PEP’s effectiveness. Remember: while on PEP you should do everything you can to support a healthy immune system: eat well, sleep, and eliminate or reduce recreational drug use.
- Storing your PEP medicine
Ask your doctor about proper storage for your PEP medicine (generally speaking, you can keep them anywhere that is cool, dark and dry). Don’t keep PEP medicine in the bathroom, as it might be too moist.