It’s recommended that everyone with HIV starts treatment as soon as possible. There are 2 reasons for this:
If you’re not already on treatment, ask your doctor about the different options. In the UK, everyone with HIV is entitled to free HIV treatment and care
Sex without condoms is an option if you’re in an exclusive relationship. First of all, you both need to test for HIV, and then you can act based on the results. Before you test, wait at least 4 weeks since the last time you had condomless anal sex with anyone outside the relationship. We recommend you use condoms until you have both had your results
There is no risk if both your HIV tests are negative (unless one of you catches HIV from someone else later)
If both of you test HIV positive, check with your HIV doctor if it’s OK for you to have condomless sex together
If just one of you tests HIV positive there are a few options to choose from:
If you and your partner have sex without condoms, you should have an agreement about sex with other people. It’s really important that you can be honest with each other as you’ll both need to retest if you have condomless sex with other people.
Using condoms every time you have anal sex is very effective protection from HIV. They also protect you from many other sexually transmitted infections
If you don’t use a condom or it breaks, your sexual health clinic can supply a course of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment which has a high chance of protecting you. If you’ve been at risk and are not sure whether you need PEP click here
PEP involves taking HIV medicines for 4 weeks after you have sex. You should ideally start it within 24 hours, and definitely within 72 hours of unprotected sex. If we are closed, you can get a starter pack from any hospital A&E (emergency) department
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves taking HIV medicine before you have sex. If you take it correctly, it provides very good protection against catching HIV. PrEP pills contain 2 drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir. PrEP is not freely available on the NHS yet, but you can buy it safely online or from the ‘Dean Street PrEP Shop’
For more information, ask a member of staff or watch the PrEP videos on the ‘Dean Street Official’ YouTube channel. Pick up a copy of the i-base PrEP leaflet in the clinic, or read it online at www.i-base.info. We recommend going to www.iwantprepnow.co.uk for the latest on buying PrEP online
The PrEP IMPACT Study offers a limited number of people access to NHS funded PrEP. To find if there are places available in your area visit www.prepimpacttrial.org.uk
There are 2 ways to take PrEP. For continuous protection, take a pill every day. After a week you will be protected. Otherwise, if you can predict when you will be at risk, you could use ‘intermittent’ PrEP. This involves taking 2 pills between 2 and 24hrs BEFORE sex. You then take one pill every day until at least 2 days after the last unprotected sex.
Before you start PrEP, it is really important to have kidney, hepatitis B and and HIV tests checked. We can sort this for you, just walk into Dean Street Express. Every 3 months we also recommend a urine kidney test and full sexual health check-up.
It’s important to remember that HIV PrEP doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted infections.
If you have condomless anal sex and take no precautions, you are at high risk of catching HIV. If you have HIV, it is important to know as soon as possible. There’s still time for you to reduce the harm to your body.
If you regularly have condomless anal sex without precautions, we recommend you test for HIV at least every 3 months.
Some experts think that if there was ever a cure for HIV, it would most likely work in people who start HIV medicine in the very earliest stages of infection.
You’ll be most infectious to others in the first couple of months after catching HIV. It’s thought that half of the UK’s HIV is caught from someone who has recently been infected. Starting treatment and controlling the HIV reduces the risk of passing the infection. People on effective HIV treatment cannot pass their HIV to others.
In the first few weeks after catching HIV, you may feel unwell. You might develop flu like symptoms or a body rash. If that happens to you, come and see a doctor right away. Let us know you’re feeling ill so that we can run special tests. We are here to help. Don’t have sex until you’ve been given the all clear.