26 November 2021

Next week marks the first ever PrEP Awareness Week, running from Monday 29 November until Sunday 5 December to coincide with World AIDS Day on 1 December.

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a medicine people at risk of HIV can take to prevent them from getting HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective. It can help you stay in control of your sex life and keep healthy.

This PrEP Awareness Week our newly appointed PrEP Programme Manager, Dominic Reilly, tells us more

Dominic Reilly - PrEP Manager Thumbnail image.png“HI I’m Dominic, I joined CNWL earlier this month and I’ll be working with local communities to promote awareness, understanding, and uptake of PrEP. I’m here to answer questions and explain how to access PrEP.

“I’m passionate about PrEP’s potential to help empower patients to take control of their health and sex lives. I’m joining CNWL from Terrence Higgins Trust, where I managed projects focused on health promotion and health inequalities research. I have a PhD in Psychosocial Studies, and a particular interest in lived experiences of ‘race’, sexuality, and their intersections. I live in Peckham with a small red-fawn whippet called Donna, and enjoy food, music, and long dog walks in and out of London. But enough about me here’s some essential information about PrEP and how it works.”

What is PrEP?

PrEP is a medication available on the NHS which, taken correctly, is extremely effective at protecting you from contracting HIV.

By taking PrEP in the correct way, you ensure that if your body comes into contact with HIV, it’s able to stop the virus from becoming established in your body.

Who is PrEP for?

PrEP may be a good choice for you if your sexual partners have a higher likelihood of being HIV positive and if you struggle to use condoms consistently for penetrative sex.

If you would like to know more about whether PrEP is right for you, you can find more information here and you can ask about PrEP at any sexual health appointment at a CNWL clinic.

How do I take PrEP?

PrEP can be taken in one of two ways:

  1. Most people take PrEP daily. This is one pill taken each day with water, which provides you with excellent protection against acquiring HIV
  2. If you are a man taking PrEP for anal sex, and you know in advance when you are going to have sex, you also have a second option of doing ‘event-based’ or ‘on demand’ PrEP. This allows you to take PrEP within certain time parameters before and after you have sex. This method of taking PrEP is not suitable for women as it doesn’t provide adequate protection for vaginal sex. If choosing this method of taking PrEP it’s really important you understand how to do it correctly – this link provides more information.

How do I get PrEP?

If you are interested in discussing whether PrEP is right for you, you can call us on 020 3317 5252 and book an appointment to start PrEP. If you’re already on PrEP you can book follow-up appointments yourself online here. You can also discuss PrEP with a health advisor, nurse, or doctor at any sexual health appointment you attend at one of our clinics.

PrEP is available from the following CNWL clinics in London:

  • Mortimer Market Centre
  • Archway Centre
  • Edgware Community Hospital

If you live in Surrey and would like to start PrEP or need a repeat prescription, call us for an appointment on 01483 675389, Monday -Friday 9.30am – 4.30pm

What’s the difference between PrEP and PEP?

Whilst you take PrEP to provide you with protection from HIV before you have sex, PEP, or Post-exposure prophylaxis, is a course of medication (3 pills per day) that you take for one month after a potential exposure to the virus. If you have been exposed to HIV, PEP is very effective at stopping the virus from establishing itself in your body.

For PEP to be effective you need to start the course of medication within 72 hours of your potential exposure to HIV, and PEP is more effective the earlier it’s started, so within 24 hours of the exposure is ideal.

You can get PEP from your local sexual health clinic without an appointment – ring up or walk in and a clinician will ensure you get PEP if it’s suitable for you. When clinics are closed, you can also get PEP from your local A&E department.