Treatment that may prevent HIV infection called PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a way of using HIV medication before sex to reduce the risk of HIV. It has been shown in studies to be highly effective if taken correctly.

PrEP is available from the NHS for people at high risk of HIV

If you have had unprotected anal or vaginal sex, or a condom accident with someone who has (or might have) HIV, then you could take PrEP to reduce the chance of getting HIV.  It is a four week course of HIV medicines.

You can get advice about whether or not you may need rPEP from the Open Doors Team, from Sexual Health Clinics or from Accident & Emergency Departments (open 24 hours a day). You can also phone NHS 111.

PrEP works best the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex - and must be started within 72 hours.

If you have it prescribed you will be given a starter pack which lasts a few days and will be invited back to talk with medical staff about how you are, before being given more tablets. On your first visit you will have a blood test taken for HIV (to make sure you are not already HIV positive).  You will also need to have a blood test to check how your liver and kidneys are working.  PEP involves taking tablets every day for 28 days. PEP may not work if you miss tablets.

Where can I get it from?

PrEP is available from our clinics some Sexual Health Clinics and Accident & Emergency Departments. 
You can also phone NHS 111 to find out where it is available near you.

Are there any side effects if I take PEP?

Yes, the most common side effects include:

  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • stomach upsets or diarrhoea

You will also be given tablets to stop nausea and diarrhoea, which you can take as required.