What is PrEP?
PrEP stands for PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS.
PrEP is a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine, which are the drugs commonly used to treat HIV. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Truvada’ and comes in tablet form.
By taking PrEP before you could have been exposed to HIV will mean that there’s enough drug inside you to stop HIV if it got into your body.
How do I get it?
PrEP has being made available to 26,000 people in England as part of the IMPACT trial, which started in September 2017. For further information and to find out how to join, see the Impact Trial website.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all doing this differently, visit their websites for more information:
How do I take it?
There are a number of different ways to take PrEP:
It could be taken it daily as 1 tablet per day, it is advisable to keep to a set time, so that you don't forget and using a daily pill box is useful to ensure that you don't miss a dose.
Another way is to take it on-demand, sometimes called ‘Event-based dosing’ where you take a double dose, 2 to 24 hours before sex and then a single dose 24 hours after the first dose and another dose 24 hours after that. 'Event-based dosing' is only advised for anal sex and you shouldn’t do it this way if you have HepB.
Another option is to take it on certain days of the week, which is also known as the ‘TTSS method’, you take one dose on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
These methods have all been shown to be very effective, although ‘On-Demand/Event-based dosing’ and ‘TTSS’ have only been studied in gay and bisexual men.
What do I need to do to take it?
If you are not on the Impact Trial and are thinking of taking it, it's important to speak to an advisor at the sexual health clinic first.
There are specific tests you need to do first to ensure your body can take PrEP safely and they will be able to provide those tests. If you don't take it correctly, it may not work.
Serious side effects are very rare, a few people experience, headaches, tiredness and nausea. In some rare cases it can affect kidney function, which is why it is important to get the pre-tests done and have regular follow-up kidney function tests whilst you are using PrEP.
Remember PrEP is very effective in preventing HIV transmission, but it won’t protect you from all the other STIs or an unwanted pregnancy, using condoms remains the most effective method for protecting yourself against these.
It’s important that, if you’re using PrEP, you go for regular STI screenings every three months.
Where can I get more information?
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