HIV – Pre-Exposure Prohylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

PrEP is an HIV prevention measure where HIV-negative individuals use medication to protect themselves from getting HIV.

The drug that has been approved for use as PrEP on the NHS in Scotland is called Truvada. The same drug has been used for many years as a treatment for people who are living with HIV.


What does taking PrEP involve?

Taking a pill, usually daily, and regularly getting tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Before starting PrEP, it is important that you know your HIV status.


Who is PrEP for?

There are strict criteria around eligibility for PrEP which you can discuss with your health professional at Sexual Health Services.


Is PrEP safe?

Yes – the drug approved for use as PrEP, Truvada, is used as treatment for HIV and was selected for use as PrEP because of its low side effect profile.

There is significant evidence indicating that side effects are infrequent, mild and temporary.

Some people report side effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness and vomiting. These can be short term or more persistent.

There is a small risk of kidney function or bone mineral density depletion so these are monitored in all patients.

If you are worried about any of these side effects, you can discuss them with your healthcare provider.


Does PrEP mean I can stop using condoms?

You should NOT stop using condoms just because you are using PrEP.

PrEP does not prevent transmission of other sexually transmitted infections and having other sexually transmitted infections increases your risk of getting HIV.

PrEP is not intended as a replacement for condoms and they are still an integral part of the HIV and sexual health response.


Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP will be available in sexual health clinics throughout Scotland from approximately July 2017. However you can act now to get ready and keep preventing HIV transmission by getting in touch with your local sexual health service; getting tested for HIV; stocking up on condoms and water based lube.