This section covers the basics about PrEP; what it is, how it works and why it’s important. PrEP is available from Steve Retson Project and Sandyford to those who are most at risk of HIV transmission.
If you have specific questions about your own sexual health and PrEP please make an appointment or ask to speak to a member of our clinical team next time you’re at Sandyford or the Steve Retson Project.
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is the name given to medicines that can be taken by someone who is HIV negative to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP is a combination of two medicines (tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine) taken as one pill.
PrEP prevents HIV infection by stopping HIV genes from getting into human DNA. The drugs used for PrEP stop HIV from replicating and are already used to treat people living with HIV to live well.
If an HIV negative person is taking PrEP and they are exposed to HIV, the drugs in PrEP will stop HIV from being able to enter their cells and prevent that person from becoming infected with HIV. PrEP needs to be taken regularly and consistently to keep the level of drug high enough to prevent infection. If PrEP isn’t taken as instructed the level of medication may not be high enough to stop HIV.
PrEP has been shown to be very effective at stopping the sexual transmission of HIV for both men and women, if taken as prescribed. The PROUD study carried out in England with gay men showed that taking PrEP daily reduced HIV infections by 86%. In most cases where PrEP appears not to have worked it was because people didn’t actually take the PrEP they were prescribed. There have been a number of other studies showing the effectiveness of PrEP and you can find out more here.
PrEP is for anyone who is HIV negative and at a high risk of acquiring HIV. PrEP will only be prescribed to people who meet the eligibility criteria for PrEP. It is not expected that people will take PrEP for many years at a time, or forever. Most people will be prescribed PrEP to cover the time that they are at greatest risk of HIV infection. This means people can discuss stopping PrEP when they are no longer at increased risk of HIV infection.
To be prescribed PrEP an individual must meet all of the following 5 criteria:
Plus, one or more of the following criteria:
You can access PrEP by making an appointment with Steve Retson Project or Sandyford by calling 0141 211 8130 and asking to discuss PrEP. People taking PrEP will be required to have regular HIV and STI tests to ensure the medication is working.
If you live within NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde PrEP is only available from Sandyford and Steve Retson Project. If you live in another area of Scotland you will need to contact your local NHS service to find out how to access PrEP in your area. See www.prep.scot for details of your nearest service.
PrEP is not a catch-all safer sex strategy, PrEP only protects against HIV infection. You could still get other STIs like gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia. As condoms are still the best way to prevent these and other STIs we recommend that you use condoms too. As part of taking PrEP you will be asked to have regular HIV and STI tests to ensure the medication is working. This means if you’re taking PrEP you will have regular opportunities to discuss your sexual health needs, including safer sex strategies, with health professionals.
PrEP is usually not necessary if an HIV negative person is only having sex with HIV positive partners who are on treatment with an undetectable viral load.
If you are HIV negative and your partner is living with HIV and has a detectable viral load we recommend discussing your sexual health and HIV prevention options with staff at Steve Retson Project or Sandyford.
If you are taking PrEP you have bought online and would like to discuss your individual situation with our clinical team please contact Steve Retson Project for an appointment on 0141 211 8130. We are very happy to talk to you about monitoring your PrEP use and your sexual health.
PrEP and PEP have very similar names and do similar but different jobs in preventing HIV infection. An easy way to distinguish between the two is that PrEP is a before medication and PEP is an after. This means:
You can find out more about what PEP is and how to access it by clicking the link below.
If you would like more information on PrEP you can download the Scottish version of the i-Base PrEP leaflet by clicking here.
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