Are you PrEPared? copy

'Are you PrEPared?' aims to raise awareness of PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) and to increase uptake in communities likely to be exposed to HIV. This will help in stopping the transmission of HIV.

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis:

It’s a way of preventing HIV infection by taking a pill either on an ongoing basis or before sex and continued after sex. It’s taken by someone who doesn’t have HIV, to prevent them from getting HIV. The PrEP pill is an antiretroviral drug – the same type of pill taken by someone who already has HIV to treat HIV.

How does PrEP work?

If a person taking PrEP is exposed to HIV, the PrEP drugs they have taken prevents HIV from entering their cells and from replicating. This stops HIV from establishing itself and stops the person taking PrEP from becoming infected with HIV.

For PrEP to work, there needs to be high enough levels of drug in the blood to be protective against HIV. That's why taking PrEP properly is so important.

Who might benefit from PrEP?

People having sex in networks that have higher levels of HIV may find PrEP useful. In the UK this includes gay and bisexual men. PrEP might be useful if travelling to a part of the world where HIV is more common and sex is likely to happen.

Some people decide to use PrEP if they have sexual partners who are from parts of the world where HIV is more common.

PrEP can be useful for people who want to have more control over their sex lives (including some sex workers).

People who don’t consistently use condoms, or are having lots of sex, or who want to increase sexual pleasure during sex, might also consider using PrEP.

Ways you can take PrEP:

Before taking PrEP you should take an HIV test to confirm that you are HIV negative. PrEP can be taken in two ways:

  • Daily: One tablet per day. This is effective after 7 days of taking the pills.

This method is suitable for everyone and all types of sex.

  • On-demand: You take PrEP only around the time you have sex. Pills are taken a few hours before sex and for two days following.

This method is only recommended for cis-men having anal sex with men. Some trans and non-binary people may use on-demand PrEP depending on the type of sex and use of hormones.

Talk to your sexual health clinic who will be able to advise you on taking PrEP correctly and safely.

How safe is PrEP?

The drugs used in PrEP are the same drugs used by thousands of people living with HIV. They are very safe and have no serious side effects. A few people experience nausea, headaches or tiredness which usually clears / passes in a week to one month. Very rarely, the medication can affect kidney function.

PrEP works for people talking the contraceptive pill or gender affirming hormones.

Where to get PrEP?

PrEP is available free through the NHS. Contact your sexual health clinic to find out more.

Some people are also ordering PrEP online. If you are thinking about getting PrEP online, you should still talk to your sexual health clinic. They will be able to advise you on taking PrEP safely, and help you get important tests, such as HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can also do a blood test to check your kidneys.