If you’re getting PrEP from outside the NHS, it’s important that you talk to an adviser from a sexual health clinic before you start taking the pills. They will support you to use the treatment safely and provide necessary tests, like HIV and kidney function tests.
In most large studies no one has become infected if they took PrEP as recommended. However, if you don’t follow the correct dosing regimen it may not work.
The drugs used in PrEP are the same drugs that are prescribed to thousands of people living with HIV every year. They’re very safe and serious side effects are very rare.
A few people experience nausea, headaches or tiredness and, very rarely, the medication can affect kidney function. As a precaution, people taking PrEP have regular kidney function tests.
Although PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV, it doesn’t provide protection from other STIs or an unplanned pregnancy.
It’s important if you’re using PrEP that you go for regular STI screenings every three months.