We encourage all sexually active people to think about HIV testing. The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful and the easier it is to prevent passing the infection to someone else. Most people do not realise they have HIV because symptoms are mild or absent, which is why it’s a good idea to get tested.
HIV Treatment and Support
For most patients with HIV treatment is recommended almost immediately. If you are newly diagnosed, contact us so we can arrange an appointment and discussion in one of our centres.
We provide comprehensive treatment and care for people with HIV infection, as well as sexual health care and ongoing support. We also have close links with Terrence Higgins Trust who offer a range of services in the community.
The best way to prevent HIV infection is to avoid activities that put you at risk, such as having sex without a condom. However we do have new treatments for reducing risk if you find yourself in a high risk situation.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) - Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment that can reduce the risk of HIV infection after contact with the virus. If you feel that you may have been in contact with HIV within the last 72 hours then PEP may be appropriate for you.
We provide PEP to people who may have been exposed to the HIV virus through sexual contact. If you think you are at risk for another reason, such as a needle-stick injury at work, please visit your Occupational Health Team or your local A&E department.
If you need PEP following sexual exposure, you can walk into any of our centres.
- Pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) - PrEP is a medicine for HIV negative people, taken before sex, so it is “pre-exposure”. Prophylaxis means to prevent infection- in this case, HIV. It can reduce the risk of getting HIV when taken as instructed.
The medication used for PrEP is a tablet which contains tenofovir and emtricitabine (drugs commonly used to treat HIV). It is sometimes called Truvada but most of the PrEP we use in the UK is generic PrEP.
PrEP does not protect people from other STIs, and people on PrEP should get regular full STI tests to look after their general sexual health.
In the past, some people have bought cheaper, generic versions of Tenofovir/Emtricitabine from online pharmacies. If you live in the UK it is legal to buy and import PrEP as long as it is for personal use only, and you buy no more then 3 months supply at once.
However, PrEP is now available through the NHS at services like Sexual Health Hertfordshire. If you want to discuss accessing it, give us a ring.