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Frequently asked questions

We have collated a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand more about PrEP!

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a pill that HIV-negative people can take to protect themselves from HIV. It is 99% effective at protecting you from HIV. We have a full page to explain more about PrEP. Find it here!

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is the tablet you take before a sexual encounter with a sexual partner. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a course of tablets you can take after you think you may have been exposed to HIV. This is ideally started in the first 24 hours after exposure and must be started within 72 hours. Contact your local sexual health clinic immediately if you think you have been exposed to HIV.

PrEP has passed rigorous medical tests in order to be safe to take. PrEP is safe for use and highly effective at protecting you from HIV. Some side effects have been reported, which you can find out more about in the FAQs.

PrEP can have some side effects like all medicines, but not everyone experiences them. The most common side effects are:

  • Feeling or being sick
  • Bloating and indigestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • feeling dizzy or weak
  • Insomnia

To find out more about each side effect, please visit the NHS website

If you are currently HIV-positive PrEP would not be right for you, as PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative to prevent them from getting HIV. You would need an antiretroviral treatment instead. Speak to your sexual health clinic about this, as they can help. Find your closest clinic by clicking here.

There are two different ways that you can take PrEP:

A daily dose – taken at the same time every day (this is suitable for anyone having anal sex and vaginal/frontal sex)


Event-based (this is suitable for any ONLY having anal sex)

  • Taking two tablets 2 – 24 hours before sex
  • Taking one tablet 24 hours after sex
  • Taking one tablet 48 hours after sex

Your clinician will tell you the best way to take this – always take as prescribed!

Yes, it is safe to take PrEP and drink alcohol.

PrEP is 99% effective at protecting you from HIV. It does not protect from any other STIs, if you are taking PrEP you will need a full sexual health check-up every three months. Talk to your local sexual health clinic about preventative measures.

PrEP might be the right option if you are currently HIV-negative. If you are interested in finding out more about PrEP look at the following pages on our website:

What is PrEP?

If you are interested in finding out more, contact your local sexual health clinic.

PrEP is now available for free on the NHS! If you are interested in taking PrEP make an appointment for a full STI check at your local sexual health clinic, and they will assess your suitability. Find your closest clinic here.