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 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 anyone at risk of HIV.

PrEP is not currently available on the NHS in Scotland, although an application to introduce it is currently being considered with a decision due in April 2017. Even if PrEP is made available, it is likely that it will be restricted to individuals who are at higher risk of HIV transmission.

Some people have chosen to buy PrEP online, although the costs involved don’t make this an option for everyone. The following websites provide reliable information and advice:

While PrEP reduces the chance of you becoming infected with HIV, it does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections.

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.

Further information on PEP is available from the National AIDS Monitor (NAM) website.