Health PrEP

What is PrEP

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and involves taking HIV medication as a way of preventing HIV infection. It is important that someone choosing to take PrEP has a confirmed HIV-negative test.

Where can I get PrEP

PrEP is available for free (through sexual health clinics) as part of the 2017-2020 NHS PrEP IMPACT trial. Up to 10,000 people who are assessed as eligible to receive PrEP will be enrolled on the trial. Read more about the PrEP IMPACT trial.

You can buy generic PrEP in London from 56 Dean Street’s PrEP Shop.

Some people purchase non-branded generic PrEP drugs from overseas pharmacies; more information on buying PrEP can be found at I Want PrEP Now.

Taking PrEP usually involves one pill per day, although some people prefer activity based dosing which means taking pills before and after condomless sex. It is important to discuss your PrEP use with a sexual health professional – and to be screened for HIV, other STIs and kidney function – before starting PrEP.

Download a useful guide to PrEP in the UK.

What is PrEP

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a course of HIV medication that may stop someone developing HIV infection if they have been exposed to the virus.

You might have been exposed to HIV if you have:

  • sex without a condom
  • had sex where a condom may have split
  • have shared or been injured by an HIV-infected needle.

PEP is a month long course of anti-HIV medication. Treatment must be started as soon as possible following potential exposure to HIV, and will only be prescribed within 72 hours (three days) of that risk.

PEP medication can make HIV infection less likely. However, it is not a cure for HIV and it does not work in every case.

PEP can also have side effects including:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches

How do I Get PrEP

PEP is only available on prescription. You can get PEP by going directly to a sexual health (GUM) clinic or an A&E department of a hospital. GPs do not usually prescribe PEP. Find a nearby sexual health clinic.

If you ask for PEP, clinical staff will ask questions to find out more about your risk of exposure to HIV, including questions about who you had sex with, their HIV status (if known) and whether you had oral, vaginal or anal sex.

PrEP is different to PEP in both the type of HIV drugs used and also in the fact that PrEP is taken by people who are HIV negative to prevent them from acquiring HIV. PEP is taken by people with a known or suspected recent risk of HIV exposure.

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