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Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention – which is the right option for you?

Hester Phillips

22 June 2023

There are now more ways than ever to take Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to protect yourself from HIV. But which option is right for you? Read on for the pros and cons to help you decide

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Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour. Credit: iStock/ Dragos Condrea

What is PrEP?

PrEP is short for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a medicine you take to protect yourself from HIV. Not only is it safe – it really works! PrEP can make your risk of getting HIV almost zero.

We all know that condoms protect from HIV. But that things happen and you may not always want or be able to use condoms. PrEP is something you are totally in control of taking. No one else. This puts YOU in the driving seat when it comes to protecting yourself from HIV.

You don’t take PrEP for life. You just take it for the certain periods in your life when you may be more at risk of HIV infection.

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Your PrEP options

There are different types of PrEP. So you can protect yourself in a way that suits you.

PrEP pills

How it works

You get PrEP pills from a clinic or pharmacy. You will get prescription for one month or a few months at a time. You take a pill each day.

The plus-points                                                              

  • It’s easy to take. All you have to do is swallow a pill!
  • You can take it for as long or as short as you like.
  • It’s the easiest type of PrEP to get hold of.

Things to consider

You have to remember to take it. If you miss doses it won’t work.

  • Before your pills run out you have to go to the clinic to get more. Otherwise you will have a gap between pills and you won’t be protected.

PrEP injections

How it works

First of all, you get one injection from a clinic. Then a month later you get another injection. After that, you get one injection every other month.

The plus-points

  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
  • You don’t have to carry pills around

Things to consider

  • You have to keep going to the clinic to get your injections.
  • This is harder to get hold of than PrEP pills – for now. This may change in the near future.
  • Some people don’t like injections!

PrEP vaginal ring

How it works

You get the rings from your clinic. You put the ring into your vagina. It’s easy to bend and insert. After it has been inside your vagina for 28 days, you replace it with a new ring.

The plus-points

  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
  • It’s a good option if you don’t like injections but want something you can use monthly.
  • You can keep a supply of rings at home. So you have fewer trips to the clinic.

Things to consider

  • It’s only for people with vaginas.
  • It’s not as effective as the PrEP pill or PrEP injection.
  • It’s harder to get hold of than other types of PrEP.
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What should I do if I want to take PrEP?

Feel proud! If you decide to take PrEP, you are doing a great thing for your health.

Speak to your health provider. They can tell you what PrEP options are available. Sadly, not all clinics offer PrEP. And a lot of clinics that do only offer PrEP pills. But this is changing.

PrEP won’t stop you getting other sexually transmitted infections. And it can’t stop pregnancy. So it’s good to think about these things too. We’ve got loads of information that can help.

See full details for this resource

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