This week a reader asks about PrEP, what it does, where to get it and if it’s available on the NHS.
Pharmacy2U’s Clinical Governance Pharmacist Phil Day answers the PrEP question.
I’ve heard that there’s a drug that can stop me from getting HIV – Where can I get this? Is it available on the NHS?
I’ve been using condoms but sometimes it can really kill the moment. I wanted to know if there’s an easier way to protect myself.
While advances in medicine mean that most people living with HIV are now unlikely to contract AIDS, you should still always wear a condom. They also provide protection against a number of other Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
In fact, there’s been a rise in sexually transmitted diseases for the first time in decades because many people are ignoring advice on wearing a condom.
Have you tried experimenting with some different rubbers and lubes? There’s a vast choice and manufacturers have invested millions into making condoms that can actually enhance your fun as well as protect you. If you’re shy, there’s a great range online as well as in the shops.
You can always put a condom on in advance if you think you’re going to have sex so that it doesn’t interrupt proceedings, or make it part of the sex session by putting them on each other. It’s also wise to use them if you’re just sticking to oral sex.
But to answer your question on Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, it is a drug treatment protocol using a prescription medicine called Truvada, and has been shown in a recent trial to be highly effective in preventing HIV in gay and bisexual men, when taken daily and used in combination with other infection prevention measures.
Truvada contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) and is already routinely used in combination with other medicines to treat existing HIV infection.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Truvada’s use by people at very high risk of HIV infection. Despite trials of Truvada in a number of cities, the NHS is not currently planning to make PrEP available on prescription in the UK, leading to anger and frustration among campaigners.
Truvada is available from a small number of private clinics in the UK and is expensive. People should only ever take medicines prescribed by a UK-registered GP and dispensed by a UK-registered pharmacy.
Did you know you can order an at-home HIV test online? Click here to buy one
The advice given in this article is for guidance only and you should always seek your own independent, professional medical advice from your own GP if you are concerned about your health.
Got a problem you’d like advice on?
Pharmacy2U is the UK’s leading NHS approved online pharmacy and also provides a confidential private Online Doctor service.
Its discrete service means you can order and have delivered to your home, or any UK address, everything from hair loss and acne treatments to sexual health and beauty products.
Pharmacy2U also offers a free NHS repeat prescription service, with additional services such as reminders for when you’re running low.