Discover How to Access PrEP in the UK

Discover How to Access PrEP in the UK

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By Steve Page

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventative medicine used to protect those at high risk of HIV infection. It is available in the UK to help individuals protect themselves from HIV and reduce the spread of the virus.

PrEP is a drug taken once daily, usually as a pill, to lower the risk of contracting HIV from activities such as sexual intercourse, sharing needles, and other exposures. The medication is effective when taken as prescribed and works by blocking the virus from establishing an infection inside cells.

PrEP is offered in the UK by the National Health Service (NHS) and private practices providing services in sexual health clinics, GPs, and online prescription providers. It is a highly effective measure for preventing HIV transmission and is becoming increasingly more accepted and accessible to those in need.

Overview of PrEP Availability in the UK

PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a medication that is taken daily to reduce the risk of HIV infection for those at risk, it is available in the UK on the NHS. However, the way you access PrEP, or even the availability of PrEP, can vary depending on the area.

PrEP is typically most widely available in cities and large urban areas. For example, in London all GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics provide PrEP, so if you are based in London it should not be difficult to obtain. It is also available in other parts of the UK through specialist services, as well as some pharmacies and community-based services.

When it comes to accessing PrEP, you need to speak to your GP. They will be able to advise you on how to get PrEP in your area, whether that be through the local NHS service or order it online from a private provider. If it is not available through your local NHS service, then you may be able to access it free through a local sexual health service, which will require an appointment.

If you are unsure if PrEP is available in your area, then it is best to speak to your GP first, and they will be able to provide more guidance and advice. Alternatively, you can contact your local sexual health clinic or community service and they should be able to provide more information.

Obtaining a Prescription from a GP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that can help prevent HIV infection. PrEP is available on prescription in the UK and can be prescribed by a doctor. It is important to do your research before going to your GP about PrEP, as not all GPs are familiar with prescribing it.

When you visit your GP, they will assess your risk of HIV and discuss the benefits and risks associated with taking PrEP. They may also ask you to attend a test to check your HIV status. Depending on your risk, they may recommend starting PrEP or refer you to a specialist clinic. If they agree to prescribe PrEP, they will likely run tests to check your kidney function and other health markers to make sure PrEP is safe for you.

Your GP will usually charge a fee each time they write you a prescription for PrEP, so it is important to check how much this is and if it is covered by any health insurance you may have. There is also the option for obtaining an online prescription from a provider like Superdrug, which may be cheaper and more convenient.

If your GP does not offer PrEP, there may be other options available to you. You can try contacting your local sexual health clinics or hospitals as some of them offer PrEP as part of their services. Alternatively, there are online providers that can provide a prescription for PrEP, such as Superdrug.

Online PrEP Providers

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a preventative HIV treatment that can be taken to reduce the chances of getting HIV. In the UK, there are a number of online providers that offer PrEP prescriptions and services. These services can provide a convenient and reliable way to get the medication while avoiding any potential stigma or embarrassment.

When ordering PrEP online, it is important to select a provider that is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC) and who can provide access to a qualified healthcare professional. This ensures that you are able to receive safe and effective advice on taking PrEP and that you are ordering medication from a reputable source.

Most online providers offer a range of services including consultations with medical professionals who can assess your suitability for PrEP and answer any questions you may have. Additionally, you may be able to access other support services such as counselling, sexual health testing, and follow-up appointments.

Once your consultation is complete, the provider will issue you with a prescription which can then be used to purchase PrEP directly from the provider or from another pharmacy with a valid prescription. It is important to ensure that the medication is kept in a safe place and that you follow the instructions on the packaging when taking PrEP.

The process for ordering PrEP online is generally straightforward, but it is important to read the terms and conditions of each provider before placing an order. Most online providers will require you to pay for the medication upfront, but some may offer payment plans that allow you to spread out the cost over a period of time.

If you are considering ordering PrEP online, it is important to remember that it is important to take regular HIV tests while taking the medication and to follow up with a GP if you have any concerns. If you have any questions or need further advice on ordering PrEP online in the UK, it is best to speak to a health professional.

Other PrEP Services in the UK

In addition to obtaining PrEP from a GP or an online provider, there are other services in the UK that allow people to access PrEP. Community-based services, run by charities and non-profit organizations, are available in some areas to provide PrEP services for those who may not be able to access PrEP through other options. It is important to note that these services may not be available in all parts of the UK, or may have certain restrictions in place.

One example of this type of service is the ANM Network, which provides free access to PrEP in England. The network works with local public health teams and sexual health clinics to identify individuals who may be eligible for PrEP and provide them with the medication. However, access to PrEP is currently limited to individuals living in certain areas, such as London and Brighton, where the network is more active.

Another example is PrEP4Free, a campaign working to increase access to PrEP in Scotland. The organisation works with various stakeholders to provide information and resources to help individuals find the PrEP services they need. Although the campaign is currently focused on Scotland, they are hoping to expand their services to other areas of the UK.

There are also initiatives being organised by community organisations in England and Wales that offer support to individuals in accessing PrEP through events, workshops, and other resources. These can often be found online, such as the West Midlands Prep Project, or through social media.

It is important to do research and to contact local services to find out what is available in your area. While there is still limited access to PrEP in the UK, organisations like these are helping to provide more individuals with access to the medication.

Side Effects of PrEP and Risks

PrEP is highly effective in preventing the spread of HIV. It is important to remember, however, that there are some known side-effects associated with taking PrEP and possible risks associated with it.

The most common side-effect reported is nausea, which can be managed through medication and changes to diet. There have been reports that taking PrEP can reduce kidney function, so it is important to keep this under regular monitoring. Additionally, PrEP has been linked to increased risk of developing certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To avoid this, it is recommended that users take regular STI tests while taking PrEP.

It is also important to note that PrEP does not provide complete protection against HIV, as it is only effective when taken correctly. Taking PrEP incorrectly or inconsistently can increase the risk of contracting HIV. To ensure the highest level of protection, it is important to adhere to the instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Finally, it is also important to remember that PrEP might not be suitable for everyone. It is important to discuss PrEP with a healthcare professional who can assess your individual circumstances.

In conclusion, taking PrEP involves some risks, and it is important to always use protection in addition to taking PrEP. However, when taken correctly, PrEP is an important tool in preventing the spread of HIV and improving health outcomes for all involved.

Testing Regularly While Taking PrEP

Taking PrEP is a crucial step in protecting yourself from HIV, but it is not the only way to stay safe. It is important to be aware that no form of protection is completely fail-safe, and maintaining regular testing is also essential. Regular testing will help detect any potential infections quickly and provide more options for treatment.

For anyone taking PrEP in the UK, it is recommended to get tested every three months. This helps ensure the PrEP is effective, and check whether there have been any new infections since the last test. The most accurate and reliable results can be obtained from a laboratory-based HIV test or a point of care HIV test.

A laboratory-based HIV test requires a blood sample, which can be collected at a clinic or GP surgery. The sample is then sent to a laboratory to be tested. Results usually take 1-2 days to be received. A POC (Point of Care) test is a quicker option, with results available in just 20 minutes. This type of test is performed by a healthcare professional, who will take a blood or saliva sample and analyse it on site before giving the results.

It is important to remember that PrEP is not a substitute for regular HIV testing, as different types of infection may still occur in people who are taking PrEP. Regular testing is essential to maintain good sexual health and ensure that any infections are identified and treated quickly.

Supplying PrEP to Your Local Area

In the UK, there are several organisations and initiatives dedicated to bringing PrEP to areas in need. These initiatives provide access to PrEP for those who may not be able to obtain it otherwise.

The Terrence Higgins Trust is one such organisation. They provide a range of services throughout the UK, including access to PrEP. Through the Terrence Higgins Trust, people can receive advice and support while they navigate the process of getting PrEP. Additionally, they provide free and discounted PrEP to those with limited access to healthcare or those who can’t afford to pay for the medication.

The National Health Service (NHS) also offers PrEP through their PrEP Impact Trial. The trial is available in England, Scotland and Wales and is aimed at increasing access to PrEP for those who are at risk for HIV. Individuals can apply to participate in the trial through an NHS clinic or their local sexual health service. Participants in the trial will receive the PrEP medication at no cost.

The PrEPster project was launched by the National AIDS Trust in 2017. The project aims to bring PrEP to communities where access to the medication is limited. PrEPster works with community organisations to increase awareness about PrEP and help people access the medication. They also provide scholarships to those who can’t afford to purchase PrEP through traditional channels.

These organisations and initiatives demonstrate the commitment of the UK government and healthcare systems to increasing access to PrEP. By providing services and support, they are helping to make sure that everyone who needs PrEP can get it.

Conclusion

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an important tool for preventing the transmission of HIV and is widely available in the UK. Through a variety of private, public, and online services, PrEP can be prescribed to anyone who is at risk of contracting HIV. GP’s and other healthcare professionals in the UK can provide prescriptions for PrEP, and there are several initiatives in place to supply PrEP to underserved areas in the UK. It is important to receive regular testing while taking PrEP, and there are several options available to do this.

Though PrEP is an effective tool for preventing HIV transmission, it is important to remember that it is not 100% effective and other methods of prevention, such as condoms, should still be utilized. PrEP is a safe and reliable option for those who may be at higher risk of contracting HIV, and with the help of this guide, you now have the knowledge and resources necessary to obtain PrEP in the UK.

Resources

Finding accurate and up-to-date information on PrEP in the UK can be difficult. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of helpful resources for those looking for more information about PrEP availability and services in the UK:

We hope that this guide, along with these resources, will help you to find the necessary information and services for getting PrEP in the UK.

The guide is based on research from reliable sources. Below is a list of the sources used to compile this article:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html

2. NHS Digital. (2019). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV infection. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep-for-the-prevention-of-hiv-infection/2019

3. PrEPster. (2019). PrEP in England – your questions answered. https://www.prepster.info/en/knowledge-hub/prep-england-your-questions-answered/

4. Terrence Higgins Trust. (2020). What is PrEP and how do I get it? https://www.tht.org.uk/sexual-health/prep-hiv-prevention#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20eligible,arrange%20it%20for%20you.

Further Reading

For those who would like to explore the topic of PrEP in the UK in more depth, there are a number of resources available. Here is a selection of suggested readings on the topic:

  • PrEP Around the World: A Primer, by Gilead Sciences
  • Who We Are: An LGBT History of Britain, by Matthew Todd
  • The London Clinic PrEP Guide, by The London Clinic
  • PrEP in the UK: A Guide for GPs and Patients, by the Terrence Higgins Trust
  • A Brief History of HIV/AIDS in the UK, by David Evans

FAQs About PrEP in the UK

  • Q: What is PrEP?
    A: PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a medication that is taken daily to reduce the risk of getting HIV. In the UK, PrEP is available as a prescription from a GP, or via online providers.
  • Q: How do I get a prescription for PrEP from a GP?
    A: It is recommended that you make an appointment with your GP, who will assess your individual needs and determine if PrEP is appropriate for you. Depending on your arrangements with the GP, there may be a fee associated with the consultation.
  • Q: What are the online PrEP providers in the UK?
    A: Online PrEP providers in the UK include IWantPrEPNow, PrEPster and Lloyds Pharmacy. Each provider offers an online questionnaire to assess your suitability for PrEP, as well as comprehensive information about the side effects and potential risks associated with taking PrEP.
  • Q: Are there any community-based services for PrEP in the UK?
    A: Yes, there are organisations that provide community-based PrEP services in the UK, such as OnTheMap and Praxis. These organisations provide free or low-cost access to PrEP, as well as testing and counselling services.
  • Q: What are the side effects and risks of taking PrEP?
    A: It is important to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about the potential side effects of PrEP and any associated risks. Common side effects may include nausea, diarrhoea, headaches, fatigue and increased appetite.
  • Q: How often should I be tested while taking PrEP?
    A: It is recommended that anyone taking PrEP should be tested regularly for HIV, usually every 3 months. There are a range of testing options available, from self-testing at home to visiting a sexual health clinic.
  • Q: Are there any initiatives for supplying PrEP to my local area?
    A: Yes, there are a number of initiatives in the UK that work to make PrEP more accessible in underserved areas. These initiatives range from online campaigns to community mobilisation and advocacy.