What is PrEP?

PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It involves taking pills containing the drugs Tenofovir and Emtricitabine to protect you from catching HIV. The treatment needs to be started before sex. It works really well if taken correctly. Taking PrEP before being exposed to HIV means there’s enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body.

Taking PrEP safely

PrEP can be used in two different ways:

  • taken regularly (one tablet per day)
  • only taken when needed (two tablets 2–24 hours before sex, one tablet 24 hours after sex and a further tablet 48 hours after sex)

This second method is often called ‘on-demand’ or ‘event based’ dosing.

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.

Although PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV, it won’t protect you from other STIs or an unwanted pregnancy, therefore we recommend practicing safe sex by using condoms or regular method of contraception.

It’s important if you’re using PrEP that you go for regular STI screenings every three months.

If you’re thinking about getting PrEP from outside the NHS, it’s important that you talk to an adviser from a sexual health clinic. They will support you to use the treatment safely and provide necessary tests.

Who can take PrEP?

If you are HIV negative, at high risk of HIV and don’t always use condoms, then PrEP can stop your risk of HIV.

Other factors related to a high risk of HIV include:

  • A recent STI (especially rectal infection or syphilis)
  • Recent need for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
  • Using recreational drugs used for chemsex (crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB) 
  • If your HIV positive partner isn’t currently taking their HIV meds regularly

Please speak to your clinic about how these risks affect you.

Booking an appointment for PrEP

Online booking

You can use our online booking system for a face-to-face appointment, PrEP appointments and to directly book a contraceptive implant appointments.

Phone booking

John Hunter Sexual Health Clinic
T: 020 3315 4040 

Further information