Ready, PrEP, Go!
Over the Rainbow is able to provide PrEP FREE to those who are eligible.
What is PrEP?
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a tablet taken when you are HIV negative, and if you are at higher risk of HIV infection, to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.
It is taken before sex, hence the term pre-exposure; prophylaxis means to prevent infection.
It has been shown to be highly effective in clinical trials.
Who is suitable for PrEP?
Men (cis and trans) and transgender women who:
- Have sex with men
- AND have had an HIV negative test during in the preceding year
- AND report condomless sex (excluding oral) in the previous 6 months
- AND are likely to continue having condomless sex (excluding oral).
HIV negative partners of an HIV positive person when:
- The HIV positive partner is not known to be virally suppressed (defined as <200 copies/ml for 6 months or more)
- AND condomless sex (excluding oral) is anticipated before treatment of the HIV positive partner takes effect.
Use this tool to work out if PrEP is right for you:
Before you start PrEP
PreP is not the same as PEP.
PrEP protects you against HIV but not any of the other STIs – it’s important to get tested regularly and use condoms as much as you can to protect against infections like Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia.
It is important for you to be tested for HIV before starting PrEP. This is because the medicines used for PrEP are also used for treatment for HIV. If you are already infected but don’t know that you are, your future treatment options may be limited or you could become resistant to HIV medication if you miss or take a late dose.
You should also be tested (and vaccinated) for hepatitis B before starting PrEP. This is because the medicines are also used for a treatment of this infection. It may affect how we advise you to take PrEP.
If you don’t have natural immunity to hepatitis B and haven’t been vaccinated, we would strongly advise that you get vaccinated before/at the time of starting PrEP.
You need to have a urine test and a blood test to check your kidney function. This is because the drugs can sometimes affect your kidneys so we need to know how well they are working before you start.
Baseline sexual health screening tests for other sexually transmitted infections (Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Syphilis) are sensible and will also be suggested every three months when you are seen in clinic. Some or all of these may be able to be accessed online.
The clinician will also talk to you about the best way to take PrEP for you. For example, trans men and women are not recommended to take “on demand” PrEP.
Whilst you are on PrEP
Whilst you are taking PrEP you should have regular HIV and STI tests, every three months.
Once a year – at least – you will have a blood test to check your kidney function.
If you get ill with fevers and /or if you have missed some pills and had sex, you will need to come in sooner and have an HIV test in case you have “seroconverted” (i.e. become infected with HIV). It is important to identify this early so we can get you on the right medication and test any contacts you could have caught the infection from.
It is important to speak to a doctor before you stop PrEP.
Stopping PrEP should be timed correctly after the last risk, and you (and your partner(s), if relevant) should have an HIV test 6 weeks after your last risk.
That said, if you are no longer having the same risks, it’s not sensible to stay on PrEP just because it is “easy” to do so.
There are some long-term risks associated with these drugs, as there can be with any medications. As outlined above, they can affect kidneys and also bone health.
Where and how to get PrEP?
Over The Rainbow are here to support you if you have any questions about using PrEP.
If you aren’t eligible or you decide to access PrEP from other sources (see below), we can provide you with safety monitoring, STI and HIV testing and all the vaccinations you need to keep you protected and healthy and to give advice on how best to use PrEP for you.
Getting in touch
Call 0300 303 1948, option 4 to speak to us, or leave a message with your details and one of our Team will call you back.