PrEP

Pre-Exposure Prophlaxis (PrEP):

  • PrEP is a pill that can prevent you from getting HIV
  • Taking PrEP can involve either taking one pill per day or what is called “event based dosing” (which means taking pills before and after condomless sex)
  • PrEP is very effective if you take it as directed
  • PrEP is for people who are HIV negative and are at risk of infection
  • Before you start using PrEP it is essential you have a confirmed HIV-negative test
  • Taking PrEP means having regular HIV and STI tests (every 3 months)
  • Many people buy PrEP online but it will soon be available for free as part of the NHS’s PrEP IMPACT trial
  • For more information you can ask at your local sexual health clinic.

Information about PrEP

Check your eligibility for free PrEP via the NHS PrEP trial

Find a sexual health clinic near you

Buy low-cost condoms

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and involves taking HIV medication as a way of preventing HIV infection. It is important that someone choosing to take PrEP has a confirmed HIV-negative test. Testing for HIV is quick, easy and confidential.

PrEP will become available for free (through sexual health clinics) in September 2017, as part of the new NHS PrEP IMPACT trial. Up to 10,000 people who are assessed as eligible to receive PrEP will be enrolled on the trial. Read more about the PrEP IMPACT trial.

Some people purchase non-branded generic PrEP drugs from overseas pharmacies. More information on PrEP and how to buy PrEP for personal use can be found at I Want PrEP Now.

Taking PrEP usually involves one pill per day, although some people prefer activity based dosing which means taking pills before and after condomless sex. It is important to discuss your PrEP use with a sexual health professional – and to be screened for HIV, other STIs and kidney function – before starting PrEP.

Download a useful guide to PrEP in the UK.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a course of HIV medication that may stop someone developing HIV infection if they have been exposed to the virus.

You might have been exposed to HIV if you have:

  • sex without a condom
  • had sex where a condom may have split
  • have shared or been injured by an HIV-infected needle.

PEP is a month long course of anti-HIV medication. Treatment must be started as soon as possible following potential exposure to HIV, and will only be prescribed within 72 hours (three days) of that risk.

PEP medication can make HIV infection less likely. However, it is not a cure for HIV and it does not work in every case.

PEP can also have side effects including:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches.

PEP is only available on prescription. You can get PEP by going directly to a sexual health (GUM) clinic or an A&E department of a hospital. GPs do not usually prescribe PEP. Find a nearby sexual health clinic.

If you ask for PEP, clinical staff will ask questions to find out more about your risk of exposure to HIV, including questions about who you had sex with, their HIV status (if known) and whether you had oral, vaginal or anal sex.

PrEP is different to PEP in both the type of HIV drugs used and also in the fact that PrEP is taken by people who are HIV negative to prevent them from acquiring HIV. PEP is taken by people with a known or suspected recent risk of HIV exposure.

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