All about PrEP

PrEP: pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis

PrEP is a medicine that you can take that prevents you from getting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) if you are HIV negative. It comes in a tablet that contains two medicines called tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine.


How do I take PrEP?

There are different ways you can take PrEP. For example, you can take it every day for continuous protection. This is the most common way people choose to take PrEP. It can also be taken 'on demand' (also call 'event based' dosing), so you take it when you can predict you’re going to have sex.

PrEP is extremely effective and available on the NHS. For people who take it properly, PrEP provides almost 100% protection against HIV. Before starting PrEP and while taking it you need to have regular HIV tests, test for other STIs, and checks on your kidney function.

Who can take PrEP?

Most adults and young people aged 16 and over who are HIV-negative can take PrEP. Globally, PrEP has been most commonly used among gay and bisexual men - but it's increasingly being used by other people too.

Get PrEP online through SH.UK

SH.UK work with local authorities to provide free sexual health care such as PrEP, home STI test kits & more. Check to see if SH.UK offers PrEP in your area.

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Who may not be able to take PrEP?

PrEP isn’t suitable for everyone.

To make sure it's safe for you, tell the clinic doctor if you:

  • have ever had an allergic reaction to tenofovir disoproxil, emtricitabine or any other medicine
  • have severe liver or kidney problems
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised)
  • are living with HIV
  • have hepatitis

You may not need to take PrEP if:

  • your partner is living with HIV, takes HIV medicine and has an undetectable viral load – this is when the level of HIV in your body is low enough not to be detected by a viral load test
  • you always use condoms when you're having sex

Here are some situations where you might benefit from taking PrEP:

  • You have condomless anal/vaginal/frontal sex with a partner/s living with HIV who is not taking HIV treatment or who has a detectable viral load
  • You're a trans or non-binary person and regularly have condomless anal/vaginal/frontalsex
  • You're an HIV-negative man who has condomless anal sex with men
  • You have used PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) in the last few months
  • You engage in chemsex, sex work, group sex or sex parties
  • You share drug injecting equipment
  • You are a cis or transgender gay or bisexual man or a transgender woman and
    • have had condomless anal/vaginal/frontal sex in the past six months and think you will do so again
    • have recently been diagnosed with Hepatitis C or syphilis
    • have recently had a rectal STI (gonorrhoea, LGV or chlamydia in your anus)
  • Your partner/s (or ex-partner/s) comes from a country with high rates of HIV
  • You don't meet the above descriptions, but you feel at high risk, or you've been clinically assessed as being at high risk of acquiring HIV, whatever your gender or sexuality

Find out more about who is at risk of getting HIV.

Find out more about other at-risk activities.

What tests do I need before I can start PrEP?

Before you can begin taking PrEP, you'll need to make sure that you:

  • are HIV negative
  • are Hepatitis B negative
  • have normal kidney function


  • if you’re a man who has sex with other men or are a trans woman, you will need to check you’re negative for hepatitis C

It’s not safe to take PrEP without taking these tests. This is because PrEP contains 2 antiviral drugs used to treat people who are living with HIV (in combination with other medications).

If you used these drugs on their own when are living with HIV, the virus could become resistant to them, which would make it more difficult to treat the infection in future.

Where can I get PrEP?

In the UK you can get PrEP for free through the NHS.

SH.UK offers free PrEP services online. Availability is dependent on whether we work with a local authority who offers the service in your area. Check to see if we offer PrEP in your area. If we don’t, we recommend you follow the advice below

In most places, you will need to visit an NHS sexual health clinic. If you live in East Sussex, you may be eligible to use SH.UK’s online PrEP service.

England - Find an NHS sexual health clinic.

Scotland - Find an NHS Scotland sexual health clinic.

Wales - PrEP is available through the PrEPARED project.

Northern Ireland - PrEP is available by initial consultation at all Northern Ireland sexual health clinics.

If for any reason you’d prefer not to access PrEP through an NHS service there are online pharmacies that sell PrEP. You will be asked to complete a consultation and take kidney function and HIV tests. IwantPrEPnow provides advice on buying PrEP online.

More information about PrEP: