PrEP To Prevent HIV
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is taken by HIV negative people before having sex (pre-exposure) to prevent HIV (this is called prophylaxis). PrEP medication is oral antiretroviral therapy (ART).
PrEP has been shown in many studies to be safe and highly effective at preventing HIV. When taken correctly PrEP has been found to be over 99% effective, but is still best used in combination with other HIV prevention measures. PrEP does not protect against other STIs. For example, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis C.
If you decide to use PrEP, it is important to do this with support from a healthcare professional as they will monitor your experience of the medication and ensure you continue to stay well.
Who can get PrEP
PrEP is available to all people in Ireland, and is available free of charge through the HSE to those who are considered to be at high risk of contracting HIV through sex.
If you do not meet the criteria for free PrEP you can decide to pay for PrEP. You can buy PrEP through community pharmacies with a prescription, please contact your local HSE STI service, details can be found here: https://sexualhealthwest.ie/stis-and-testing-options
Benefits Of PrEP
If you are HIV negative and don’t always use condoms, then PrEP could reduce your risk of HIV.
You may have a higher risk of HIV if you:
- are having sex with HIV-positive partners who are not on treatment or whose treatment may not be working
- had a recent sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially a rectal infection or syphilis
- have used PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) in the past year
- are using recreational drugs for sex, also known as chemsex
- likely to engage in condomless anal sex in the next three months
PrEP And Other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
PrEP does not protect against other STIs. For example, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis C, so it is encouraged to combine condoms and PrEP to reduce the risk of contracting other STIs.
Regular STI testing at least every 3 months is recommended for people taking PrEP.
Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is recommended for all gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs.
HPV vaccination is recommended for MSM up to and including 45 years of age to protect against genital warts and HPV-associated cancers.
How To Get PrEP
If you are HIV negative and don’t always use condoms then you may be at risk of getting HIV. Taking PrEP can prevent HIV.
You may be eligible to get PrEP for free, this link will take you to the most current guidelines: https://www.sexualwellbeing.ie/sexual-health/prep/how-to-get-prep/
Find out where to get PrEP from an approved PrEP service provider at this link: https://www.sexualwellbeing.ie/sexual-health/prep/where-to-get-prep/
If you are eligible for free PrEP, you also need to have a medical card or drug payment scheme (DPS) card. There is no means test for a drug payment scheme card but you do need a PPS number. Here are the DPS card applications details: https://www2.hse.ie/services/drugs-payment-scheme/drugs-payment-scheme-card.html