PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) is a combination of HIV medications that may significantly reduce your risk of being infected with HIV. You must start taking PEP within 72 hours of an activity with a high risk of HIV exposure although the sooner you start taking PEP the better chance it has to work.
I think I need PEP, what do I do?
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV then you must start the medication as soon as possible after the episode of risk. The sooner PEP is started, the more likely it is to work; within 24 hours is best, but no later than 72 hours. After 72 hours PEP is unlikely to work and will not be provided.
You must take the medication as directed for 28 days. PEP interferes with the HIV’s ability to copy itself in your body after you’ve been exposed. This prevents it from establishing an infection.
PEP is available from sexual health clinics during opening hours.
If the clinic is closed DON'T DELAY, go to your nearest hospital A&E department for an assessment as the sooner you start to take the medication, the better chance you have of preventing HIV.
If you attend A&E they might only provide you with a starter pack (3-5 days worth of medication). It is important that you attend a sexual health clinic for the remaining month’s supply of medication.
Your GP cannot prescribe PEP. See the prescribing recommendations here: (Table 3 from page 18)
PrEP (HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the use of anti-HIV medication (Truvada) to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected with HIV.
A number of studies have shown that PrEP is safe and effective. The PROUD study in the UK looked at whether offering daily PrEP to men who have sex with men was an effective way to prevent HIV infection. The results show that PrEP is highly protective, reducing the risk of infection for this group by 86%.
Currently PrEP is not available on the NHS in the UK. However NHS England has announced the start of a trial to provide HIV prevention drugs to people at high risk of HIV infection – click here to see the announcement from NHS England.
We know some people buy PrEP on-line. If you are tempted to buy PrEP yourself we advise reading the i-base UK guide to PReP.
If you have chosen to take PrEP that you have bought on-line we would recommend that you attend the LGBT+ clinic (Mondays 4-6.30pm) at the Florey Clinic or contact the Health Advising Team at the Garden Clinic on 01753 635330 so that additional advice, information and support can be provided.