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PEP and PrEP

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What is PEP?

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.

How to take PEP poster

  • 1 Truvada tablet to be taken at the SAME TIME every day
  • 1 raltegravir tablet taken at the SAME TIME every morning and evening 12 hours apart E.g. 8am and 8pm

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.

What is PrEP?

PrEP (HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the use of anti-HIV medication to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected with HIV. PrEP is a treatment which needs to be taken before and after sex. When taken correctly it provides HIV negative people with protection against HIV. 

Lady smiling alongside the words "PrEP Protects"

It is recommended for anyone who is at higher risk of HIV - for example:
- people with sexual partners who are not 'undetectable' on treatment for HIV,
- people who have condomless anal sex with multiple partners and
- people who have unprotected sex with people from a population group where HIV is more common.

There are 2 ways of taking PrEP.
1.  DAILY DOSING where you take 1 tablet regularly per day
2.  EVENT BASED or ON DEMAND dosing where you take treatment only when needed. Two tablets are taken 2–24 hours before sex, one tablet 24 hours after sex and a further tablet 48 hours after sex.
Both methods have been shown to be very effective when taken correctly.  

The drugs used in PrEP are the same drugs that are prescribed to thousands of people living with HIV every year. They’re very safe and serious side effects are very rare. As a precaution, people taking PrEP have regular kidney function tests.

PrEP is now available through the NHS. If you think you may be eligible for PrEP, please contact your local clinic:
The Florey Clinic 0118 322 7202 for Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire residents.
The Garden Clinic 0300 365 7777 for Bracknell-Forest, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead residents.

The i-base UK guide to PrEP ,  I Want PrEP Now and Prepster are all additional useful sources of information on PrEP and how to access it. If you have chosen to take PrEP that you have bought on-line we would recommend that you contact your local sexual health clinic to arrange an annual blood test. Further information and support can be also be provided.

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