Recent trials have also explored if oral PrEP might work if taken less regularly, particularly before and soon after sex. This way of taking PrEP might be more popular for people who know in advance when they are going to have sex. Click here for more information on daily and non-daily use of PrEP.
If a person taking PrEP is exposed to HIV, the PrEP drugs they have taken prevents HIV from entering their cells and from replicating. This stops HIV from establishing itself and stops the person taking PrEP from becoming infected with HIV.
The short answer is yes. Studies across the world have shown that daily oral PrEP is highly effective. The iPREX trial showed that it was most effective when taken every day. Aidsmap’s briefing paper provides an excellent overview of PrEP research.
PrEP is different from PEP. PEP is taken for up to 28 days after someone has had sex if they think they’ve been exposed to HIV. The main difference between PEP (post– exposure prophylaxis) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is that PEP is taken after sex, if someone thinks they’ve been exposed to HIV, and PrEP is taken on an ongoing basis before sex. More information about PEP is available here.
At the moment PrEP is only available for free on the NHS for people enrolled on the IMPACT administrative trial. The trial investigates the demand for PrEP in England. The trial is open to 10,000 people of any gender and sexuality, find your local sites and where you can register here.
Some people have started to buy PrEP though private prescriptions – but this is expensive. Others have started to buy PrEP online from overseas and even use forwarding addresses with companies like Bordelinex in countries where PrEP access is easier. If you’re considering starting PrEP independantly, it’s important to be aware of some key information.
If you are considering starting PrEP, it is highly recommended that you discuss this with a doctor at a sexual health clinic. Medical staff will be able to help you decide if PrEP is right for you, and will be able to offer important tests before starting PrEP – such as kidney function tests. Most importantly, they will be able to provide the right kind of HIV test – PrEP should only be started if you know you are HIV negative for sure.
If PrEP becomes completely available on the NHS outside the IMPACT trial, it is likely to be mainly available from sexual health clinics. There will be guidelines about who will be able to receive it – such as individuals who are at greater risk of getting HIV. It will not be recommended for everyone.
In March 2016 NHS England released a statement on provision of PrEP in England that said that Local Authorities and not NHS England are responsible for funding PrEP. This was despite NHS England starting a formal process 18 months ago to decide if NHS should fund PrEP. In August and November 2016, NHS England was taken to court by National Aids Trust. The judges ruled that NHS England could lawfully commission PrEP.
In Scotland, PrEP is now available for free on the Scottish health service for people 16 and over who live in Scotland. Find out more here. In Wales, PrEP is available on a limited basis through the PrEPARED project. PrEP is currently not available either through a trial or through health services in Northern Ireland.
Information about accessing PrEP in approved countries, along with which countries have approved it, can be found here.
Information about campaigns for getting PrEP access approved in your country are listed here. Or start your own and add it to the list so your locals know how to get involved.
A toolkit for starting up your own PrEP access campain in your country can be found here (created by the ITPC).
Other ways to take action in the UK can be found on the Prepster Take action page.
Please note, this information is correct and accurate at the time of posting. Things can change quickly and we will do our best to keep things updated, however please confirm facts for yourself before making decisions based on this information.
Thank you to Prepster for providing much of this information.