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About PrEP and PEP

Helping to prevent HIV: PEP and PrEP Treatments

No matter who you are, your lifestyle or number of partners, we should all aim to enjoy our sexual relationships. However... be considerate to yourself and others if you are at higher risk of HIV by wearing a condom and getting yourself checked regularly for HIV and other STIs. Consider using preventative treatments PEP or PrEP , medicines proven to help protect against contracting HIV.

Higher risk of HIV exposure can happen if you enjoy more than one sexual partner at a time, are a sex worker or have chemsex and are injecting drugs or sharing needles with partners or friends.

Reduce the risk

  • Keep protected by wearing a condom always or if you are heterosexual female, ensure your partner wears one too
  • If you think you are at continual risk, make sure you get tested for HIV, regularly i.e. every 3 months, especially with new or casual partners if you are not using condoms
  • Remember, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is good practice for everyone who is sexually active and not in a long-term or regular monogamous relationship (having sex with one partner only)

 

"Like all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV doesn't care what colour you are, your age or your religious background. If you're having unprotected, high-risk sex it's really important that you protect your partners health. That's why PrEP and PEP are indispensable in helping protect against HIV – they're free and available to all."

Sexual Health Nurse Consultant, The Florey Clinic, Reading

Treatments to prevent the risk – before and after sex

  • Preventative (prophylactic) treatments PEP or PrEP are two medicines that are proven clinically to help protect people who are HIV negative from contracting HIV, when taken correctly.
  • PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an after-sex emergency treatment for use if you've been potentially exposed to HIV after sex. You’ll need to take the course of anti-HIV medicine for 28-days and the sooner you start treatment, the better the results. PEP is available at sexual health clinics or from hospital Accident & Emergency departments
  • PrEP (HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a treatment you take before having sex and is found to be highly effective in preventing HIV – but it won't protect against other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), such as Gonorrhoea or Chlamydia. You can help protect yourself from STIs by using a condom

Both PEP and PrEP are primarily prescribed for use for those aged 16 years and over.

PEP and PrEP are also available for people aged under 16 years, if they are at risk of HIV infection. In this circumstance, a healthcare professional will discuss treatment options with you and your wider welfare.

Overall, irrespective of your age, if you need any sexual health advice, it’s always worth contacting your local sexual health clinic where the specialist healthcare professional team will help you.

Useful links

You can find out about preventative treatments like PEP and PrEP here. To learn more about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) visit the HIV and STIs page.

The following websites are further useful sources of information on HIV, PEP and PrEP.

  1. Thames Valley Positive Support is the only HIV advocacy group in Berkshire and works to both educate and support people living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/
  2. Set up by the Terrence Higgins Trust, you’ll find all the information you need about PrEP and how to access PrEP now: https://www.iwantprepnow.co.uk/about/
  3. The Women and Prep website hosts videos which explain to different risk groups how PrEP can be used to enjoy sex safely without worrying about HIV
  4. Prepster aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access in England and beyond: https://prepster.info/
  5. UK Guide to PrEP: https://i-base.info/guides/prep
  6. The Terrence Higgins Trust has information about PEP here: https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/pep-post-exposure-prophylaxis-hiv
  7. UK NHS website includes information on HIV and AIDS: https://www.nhs.uk/ or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/
  8. Facing a positive HIV diagnosis and living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/facing-a-positive-hiv-diagnosis/ and HIV and AIDS - Coping with a positive HIV test - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

What is PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is a preventative treatment that is proven clinically to reduce your chances of getting HIV. You take PrEP before you are exposed to HIV infection risk. PrEP is an anti-HIV treatment that stops the HIV virus entering the cells of your body and reproducing. Taking PrEP is highly effective in preventing a person who is HIV negative from getting HIV, helping them to enjoy sex safely.

"We talk to people where one partner is HIV positive and their partner is not. In these cases we would always recommend that the HIV negative partner uses PrEP as a preventative to help stop them getting HIV."

Sarah Macadam, CEO, Thames Valley Positive Support

PrEP is available free on prescription from your local sexual health clinic. Unlike PEP It is not available as an emergency treatment so a hospital A&E department won’t be able to prescribe it, nor will your GP.

When you make an appointment for PrEP at your local sexual health or Genito-Urinary Medicine clinic, the specialist healthcare team will be able to determine if PrEP is right for you. In general though, PrEP is recommended for anyone who is HIV negative and having sex when a condom is not always used. Taking PrEP doesn’t necessarily depend on how much or the type of sex you have but how far in advance you plan to have sex or how regularly.

PrEP is available for free on prescription and is a course of tablets you take before having sex:

  • There are different dosing schedules for taking PrEP according to your sexual orientation or gender, such as ‘Daily Dosing’ or ‘On Demand Dosing’
  • Your sexual health consultant will tell you the most appropriate options of how you should take PrEP, based on your own personal circumstances
  • Important: Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is recommended every three months whilst taking PrEP.
Your sexual health team will advise you which dosing regimen is most suitable for you.

If you are considering taking PrEP contact your local sexual health clinic for more help and advice on what’s right for you.

Here's Laura's Personal Story: "PrEP is based on how people are already having sex, rather than telling people to have sex in a different way or in the 'right way'. For some women this can mean taking a tablet once a day when you’re not sure of your man's HIV status or aren't certain who else he's having sex with or when you're having more casual sex. PrEP can be used by women, it can give you more control over your sexual health."

Safe Sex Berkshire thanks the team at Prepster for providing this case study

Useful links

You can find out about preventative treatments like PEP and PrEP here. To learn more about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) visit the HIV and STIs page.

The following websites are further useful sources of information on HIV, PEP and PrEP.

  1. Thames Valley Positive Support is the only HIV advocacy group in Berkshire and works to both educate and support people living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/
  2. Set up by the Terrence Higgins Trust, you’ll find all the information you need about PrEP and how to access PrEP now: https://www.iwantprepnow.co.uk/about/
  3. The Women and Prep website hosts videos which explain to different risk groups how PrEP can be used to enjoy sex safely without worrying about HIV
  4. Prepster aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access in England and beyond: https://prepster.info/
  5. UK Guide to PrEP: https://i-base.info/guides/prep
  6. The Terrence Higgins Trust has information about PEP here: https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/pep-post-exposure-prophylaxis-hiv
  7. UK NHS website includes information on HIV and AIDS: https://www.nhs.uk/ or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/
  8. Facing a positive HIV diagnosis and living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/facing-a-positive-hiv-diagnosis/ and HIV and AIDS - Coping with a positive HIV test - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

What is PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

Don't delay if you think you are at risk of HIV exposure and had unprotected sex (not wearing a condom or the condom breaks) or you’ve been sharing needles with others or you have been injured with a needle used to inject drugs, then get in touch with a local sexual health clinic or your nearest hospital Accident & Emergency department.

Be quick: PEP should be started within a few hours after exposure (although may also be given up to 72 hours after HIV-risk exposure).

This is an after-sex emergency treatment for use if you've been exposed to HIV after having sex. It's proven clinically to help prevent HIV if taken correctly for 28 days and treatment is started as soon as possible after exposure i.e. within a few hours and no later than 72 hours (3 days).

PEP is a prophylactic (preventative) anti-HIV infection treatment that is available free on prescription. It's available at local sexual health clinics in Berkshire or from hospital A&E departments if the clinics are closed. PEP is also available from Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics outside of Berkshire.

PEP may prevent you getting an HIV infection if you've been put at risk and exposed to the virus but it doesn’t always work and is not a cure for HIV.

PEP is recommended following sexual exposure where there is a risk of HIV transmission. The sexual health clinic or Accident & Emergency department will ask you some questions to determine if PEP is right for you based on your exposure risk, before giving you a free prescription.

You'll be asked to take an HIV test before starting treatment. You'll also have to take an HIV test after PEP treatment to ensure that this treatment has been successful in preventing HIV infection.

You need to take a course of treatment (tablets) for 28 days to reduce your risk of HIV infection.

 Contact your local sexual health clinic or your nearest hospital Accident & Emergency department if the clinics are closed.

You'll receive detailed information when you are given your PEP prescription but here are some brief details:

    • Medication must be taken everyday for 28 days
    • Remember: you must take the medicines prescribed for 28 days or as advised by your healthcare professional; if you stop taking them for any reason, the treatment is unlikely to work

If you think you may be at future risk of HIV again you might want to think about taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). This is another preventative treatment you take before actually having sex.

"Blaize talks about his personal HIV awareness journey: "I had my first 'HIV scare' in 2013 whilst 'in the closet', after having condomless sex with a partner I knew nothing about.

I was overwhelmed and consumed with shame, fear of what would happen if I contracted HIV, fear of what my parents, friends and family would think. Stress, anxiety and panic made me numb, and after not being able to handle these emotions any longer, I visited the sexual health clinic and was prescribed PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for the first time."

Safe Sex Berkshire thanks the team at Prepster for providing this abridged case study

Useful links

You can find out about preventative treatments like PEP and PrEP here. To learn more about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) visit the HIV and STIs page.

The following websites are further useful sources of information on HIV, PEP and PrEP.

  1. Thames Valley Positive Support is the only HIV advocacy group in Berkshire and works to both educate and support people living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/
  2. Set up by the Terrence Higgins Trust, you’ll find all the information you need about PrEP and how to access PrEP now: https://www.iwantprepnow.co.uk/about/
  3. The Women and Prep website hosts videos which explain to different risk groups how PrEP can be used to enjoy sex safely without worrying about HIV
  4. Prepster aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access in England and beyond: https://prepster.info/
  5. UK Guide to PrEP: https://i-base.info/guides/prep
  6. The Terrence Higgins Trust has information about PEP here: https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/pep-post-exposure-prophylaxis-hiv
  7. UK NHS website includes information on HIV and AIDS: https://www.nhs.uk/ or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/
  8. Facing a positive HIV diagnosis and living with HIV: http://www.tvps.org.uk/facing-a-positive-hiv-diagnosis/ and HIV and AIDS - Coping with a positive HIV test - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

What is PrEP?

Sunita Baniya, Advanced Nurse Practitioner from the Garden Clinic in Slough explains how anti-HIV treatment PrEP is proven to reduce your chances of getting HIV when taken before you are exposed to HIV infection risk.

What is PEP?

Nisha Pal, Consultant in Sexual Health and HIV at the Garden Clinic in Slough talks about PEP, or Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, an emergency treatment that may significantly reduce your risk of being infected with HIV after exposure and is available FREE from your local sexual health clinic.

HIV testing and PEP

Bret Palmer, Consultant in Sexual Health and HIV at the Florey Clinic in Reading discusses the importance of knowing your HIV status and using preventative treatments such as PEP if you have recently been exposed to HIV.

What is PrEP?

Paul Graham, Public Health West Berkshire, talks about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, a preventative treatment proven to reduce your chances of getting HIV.

When should I use PEP?

Courtnay Sibley, Case Worker at Cranstoun Drug and Alcohol Service in Wokingham explains how certain lifestyles can put you more at risk of HIV infection. If you may have been exposed to HIV, don’t delay! Get in touch with your local sexual health clinic or visit your nearest hospital Accident and Emergency department.

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