A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness of a lesser-known yet potentially life-changing means of preventing HIV.
Titled “Stay PrEPared”, the project is centred around a tablet-based medicine called pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis – or PrEP, for short.
The campaign forms part of Derbyshire Community Health Services’ wider goal of achieving zero HIV transmissions by 2030.
Who is PrEP for?
PrEP is intended to be taken by people who do not have HIV, but could be at risk of contracting it.
These at-risk groups include men who have sex with men, transgender women, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and anyone with a HIV-positive partner.
In addition, Black heterosexual people and migrants to the UK may also both be at risk.
But don’t worry – if you fall into any of these groups and are over the age of 15, you could be eligible for a free prescription from your local sexual health clinic.
How can I access PrEP?
At your appointment – which can be booked via phone – you’ll be asked about your sexual and medical history before doing some tests to check if you’re eligible.
You’ll be given a follow-up appointment around two weeks later and, if you’re eligible, PrEP tablets will be supplied by the clinic for free.
Normally, you’ll be asked to attend further appointments every three months for follow-up tests, where you’ll receive three more months worth of PrEP tablets. It’s also important to still have regular STI screenings every three months.
Why should I use PrEP?
PrEP is accessible to everyone regardless of your sexual preferences or gender identity, and works for a whole range of different relationships – be that long-term or short-term, exclusive or open.
The small, blue tablet is easy to incorporate into your sex life, and can even lead to greater intimacy between partners by reducing any anxiety either of you may have around contracting HIV.
For more information on PrEP and to book an appointment to discuss starting a course of PrEP, please call the information and booking line on 0800 328 3383 or visit yoursexualhealthmatters.org.uk
By Jamie Morris