What is PrEP?
PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It’s a form of medicine which prevents HIV. It is taken by a HIV negative person before sex and exposure to HIV. It is available for free to some people through the NHS and also at SHAW High Wycombe and Brookside Aylesbury sexual health clinics. You will require a medical consultation to assess your suitability for the provision of PrEP.
How do I access free PrEP
If you think you would benefit from PrEP and fit into one of the categories below please call 0300 303 2880 for an assessment.
- You have a sexual partner with HIV who is not on treatment or who has a detectable viral load.
- You are a gay or bisexual man who has anal sex without condoms, whether you are top, bottom or versatile.
- You are a trans man or trans woman who has anal or vaginal/front hole sex with men.
- You have recently had syphilis, or a sexually transmitted infection in your bottom.
- You’ve been given PEP more than once in the last year
Taking PrEP and how effective is it?
How it Works
It involves a HIV negative person taking tablets containing the drugs Tenofovir and Emtricitabine. The tablets need to be taken before sex for it to work. Taking PrEP before any HIV exposure means there’s enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body. PrEP can be taken regularly or when needed. It is important to take it correctly for it to work effectively
Studies show that if PrEP is taken correctly, the chances of getting HIV while you’re on it are almost zero. It’s a really powerful tool for helping prevent new HIV infections.
PrEP only protects against HIV not other STIs
Reasons you may not need PrEP:
- If you are in a relationship with someone and neither of you is having sex with anyone else, once you have both tested negative for HIV then you don’t need PrEP.
- If your only partner is HIV positive, taking treatment with an undetectable viral load then they are no longer infectious to others. You do not need PrEP because their treatment protects you from HIV. PrEP would not add any extra benefit.
- If you are a gay or bi man or trans person and you are not having anal sex at the moment, then you’re not at risk of catching HIV. Unprotected anal and vaginal sex leads to far more HIV infections than oral sex.
- If you are already using condoms all of the time for anal (or vaginal/front hole) sex, then PrEP is not needed because condoms offer excellent protection against HIV as well as other STIs. As a back-up plan, in case of a condom accident then you can always attend for PEP (emergency medicine to prevent HIV) as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
I want to access PrEP outside of the NHS
If you are considering accessing PrEP from outside the NHS, it is still important to talk to an adviser from the sexual health clinic. Call 0300 303 2880.
Find out more about PrEP:
Emergency HIV Prevention
If you think you have been exposed to HIV through sexual contact in the last 72 hours, you may need PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). It is more effective the earlier it is taken.
However, please be aware that all Clinics are closed on Bank Holidays, therefore in case of an emergency:
If somebody needs PEP when the clinics are closed people should go to A&E at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for sexual exposure and for occupational exposure the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) or A&E.
Find out more about PEP here
Need to speak to someone?
If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.
Call 0300 303 2880 to book an appointment or use our service finder to locate your nearest clinic.