DR-web’s guide to PrEP


What is PrEP?


HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis — PrEP — is a medicine for HIV-negative people. It’s taken before sex, so it’s pre-exposure. Prophylaxis means to prevent infection — in this case HIV. It can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV when taken as instructed.


Who would benefit from PrEP?


You could benefit from PrEP if you’re considered to be at high risk of acquiring HIV. PrEP can be used as a way to reduce your risk of HIV if you are HIV-negative and don’t always use condoms.


Other factors related to a higher risk of HIV are:


•A recent STI — especially a rectal infection such as syphilis, Hepatitis C, or Lymphogranuloma venerum.


•Use of PEP — post-exposure prophylaxis.


•Using some recreational drugs.


PrEP is not a vaccine and only provides protection from HIV so long as you continue to take it as prescribed. It’s important to remember that PrEP won’t protect you from acquiring other STIs. This is an important advantage of using condoms.


Thinking about starting PrEP?


It’s important we check your medical history and run kidney, Hepatitis B, and HIV blood tests before you start PrEP. We’ll do a sexual health screen.


If you’re already taking PrEP.


It’s important to have regular monitoring while on PrEP, every three months. It’s also recommend that you take a urine test to check your kidneys, and a sexual health screen — including an HIV test — once a year.


PrEP Impact Trial


The PrEP Impact Trial is recruiting 10,000 participants who are at a high risk of HIV, across England. Additional places may become available later in 2018.


The NHS is funding free PrEP through the PrEP Impact Study. Everyone on the trial will get NHS funded PrEP until at least October 2020. Only those at very high risk of catching HIV are eligible to join.

















What is PEP?


You may have been exposed to HIV if you’ve:


•Had unprotected sex — sex without using a condom.


•Had sex with someone with HIV and the condom broke.


•Been injured with an HIV-infected needle.


PEP is a course of anti-HIV medication. You must start the treatment as soon as possible after you’ve been exposed to HIV, ideally within a few hours. The medicines must be taken every day for four weeks. PEP is unlikely to work if it’s started after 72 hours post-exposure, and it won’t usually be prescribed after this time. PEP makes infection with HIV less likely. However, it’s not a cure for HIV and it doesn’t work in all cases. Some strains of HIV aren’t affected by the medicines.


Where can I get PEP?


PEP is only available on prescription. You can get PEP from a sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinican, or from the A&E department of a hospital.