PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It involves taking pills containing the drugs Tenofovir and Emtricitabine.You need to take it before having sex for it to work.
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. It can’t protect you against other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea and syphilis.
You can get it free on the NHS if any of these apply to you:
- You are a gay or bisexual men 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
- You have a sexual partner with HIV who is not on treatment or who has a detectable viral load
If you think you would benefit from PrEP and it into one of these categories please call 0300 303 2880 for an assessment.
Not all gay and bi men or trans people need PrEP.
- If you are not having anal sex at the moment, then you’re not at risk of catching HIV.
- 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 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.
- Finally, 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.
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.