Alongside providing effective treatment for people living with HIV, some medications used for the condition have also been shown to be effective at preventing new infections.
PrEP (or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to give it its full name) involves the use of certain HIV medications by those without the virus as a means of preventing infection. In recent years, a number of high profile studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PrEP for people at risk of HIV, and in particular gay and bisexual men.
PrEP is now available on the NHS in Scotland for people who are at the greatest risk of HIV. Along with other HIV organisations, we are supporting www.prep.scot, an online source of information about PrEP in Scotland, including the eligibility criteria the NHS will use to assess people.
If you think you should be assessed for PrEP, you should get in touch with your local sexual health clinic or HIV prevention organisation. There, staff will be able to talk to you about whether PrEP is right for you, and about other HIV prevention options . You can find local services here.
While PrEP reduces the chance of you becoming infected with HIV, it does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections. Correct condom and lubricant use is still an effective prevention option. If you have been at risk of an STI, including HIV, we also recommend regular testing as a fundamental part of maintaining good sexual health and wellbeing.
PEP (or Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) involves the use of HIV medications by individuals who have been exposed to HIV as a way to reduce the risk of infection.
PEP is currently available on the NHS, usually through sexual health clinics or hospital emergency departments. However, it is only prescribed in certain circumstances to those who are at greatest risk of HIV. PEP is more effective the sooner it is started after you think you may have been at risk of HIV. Ideally this should be within the first 24 hours, though PEP may be offered up to 72 hours after exposure.