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HIV-Post Exposure Prophylaxis and PrEP


HIV-Post Exposure Prophylaxis

What is PEP?

PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV) is a 4 week course of pills you can take if you have had a significant risk of exposure to HIV. The medication may stop you becoming infected with HIV. If you think you have been exposed to HIV you can reduce your risk of becoming infected by taking post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is a 4 week course of medication. PEP should be started as soon as possible because evidence suggests it is most effective when started within a few hours of exposure to HIV. PEP will not be given if it is more than 72 hours (3 days) since you think you have been at risk of HIV.

Where do I get PEP?

You can access PEP by phoning Ayrshire and Arran’s sexual health services on 01294 323226. A nurse will ask you some questions to find out if PEP is suitable for you and will give you an appointment if required.

If the sexual health department is closed please attend the Accident and Emergency department at

  • University Hospital Crosshouse, Kilmarnock Rd, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock KA2 0BE or
  • University Hospital Ayr, Dalmellington Rd, Ayr KA6 6DX
  • Regular family doctors (GPs) do not prescribe PEP

PEP can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after sexual exposure but is more likely to be effective within 24 hours (1 day) so it’s important to act very quickly.

How long do you have to take PEP?

The PEP course of pills lasts 4 weeks.  It is important not to miss any tablets and to take the tablets at the specified times.

Does Pep have side effects?

You may have some side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, headaches, tiredness.  Your healthcare professional will discuss with you prior to prescribing PEP.  You will need to have some blood tests during the PEP course to monitor its effects on your body.

Click here for NHS inform information.

Click here for community language access information.

HIV – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (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

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.


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