Staying HIV negative

IF YOU HAVE HAD UNPROTECTED UNSAFE SEX.... get some PEP.

If you have had unsafe sex with a HIV positive person (or a person who you don't know whether they are  postive or not) then...

  • First of all, stay calm.
  • Please go to ring your local STI clinic for an immediate appointment.
    In Bradford, the STI clinic is called LOCALA - and you can find more information on them here.  Their number is 030 3330 9500.
    In Leeds, the STI clinic is in the Merrion Centre (upstairs, and it is very discreet and very welcoming too).  More details can be found here.   Their number is... 0113 392 0333
    Both Bradford and Leeds have drop-in clinics too.
  • If you are ringing after 6pm and before 9am, then you may need to go to your local A&E department.

By unsafe sex we mean if you haven't used protection like a condom or where the condom split or burst. You need to go there as soon as possible after the sexual act.    Within 72 hours (3 days). They will give you a month's course of tablets to take called Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which can substantially lower the risk of you catching HIV.

STAYING HIV NEGATIVE - Have you heard of PrEP?

The European Medicines Agency regulates all drugs sold in the UK and other European countries. It has approved Truvada for use as PrEP, in order to prevent HIV infection. Truvada is a single tablet containing two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine. You take ONE tablet ONCE a day and this should lower your risk of HIV.  It's especially good for those people who find themselves doing unsafe sex quite often.   However, one should never think that just because they are on it, they can do bareback sex willy nilly (no pun intended!) - try to practise safe sex wherever possible.

Currently, the NHS does not provide PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). But it is possible to import PrEP medications from overseas.   Arranging your own healthcare in this way may not be ideal, but an increasing number of people are doing so. It is the only way they can get PrEP and it is helping many people stay HIV negative.  Truvada is currently protected by a patent in the UK. This mean that the NHS and UK pharmacies must use Truvada rather than generic versions of it that are cheaper. However, it is lawful for individuals to import generic drugs (providing you don't buy any more than 3 months supply at a time and that it is for personal use only).  Generic equivalents of Truvada include:

  • Tenvir-EM
  • Ricovir-EM and
  • Tenof-EM.  

If you buy Truvada on private prescription, a month's supply will cost around £400.  Yes, it is that expensive.  However, the good news is that the generic equivalents (listed above) cost around £35-45 per month (still not cheap, but better than £400!).  It is important to check that the tablet you are buying is a combination pill, containing both tenofovir and emtricitabine. For example, Tenvir-EM contains these two drugs, whereas Tenvir only contains tenofovir and is not recommended for PrEP.

Tests to have before you start

If you buy your own PrEP medications, it is important to also go to a clinic for some tests. You should have regular screening for HIV, sexually transmitted infections and kidney function. In this way, you can use PrEP as safely as possible.   You should also go to your GP to get your kidneys checked because the tablets can affect kidney function in a very small number of patients.  You should have these tests done before starting PrEP or around the same time. If you’ve already started PrEP, get them done as soon as you can.   If your GP is not very familiar with PrEP, please refer them to this page.

  • HIV: 4th-generation blood test, able to detect antibodies and p24 antigen
  • Kidney function: test for protein in urine
  • Kidney function: test for creatinine and eGFR in blood
  • Hepatitis B: blood test
  • Sexually transmitted infections

It’s important to be sure that you don’t have HIV without realising it – if you did have HIV, taking PrEP could mean you develop resistance to drugs you may need for treatment.

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