Yes, PrEP is available for free on the NHS to at-risk patients through Umbrella clinics.
To date, there have been variable results in some groups of people. Evidence of effectiveness is strongest for men who have sex without a condom with multiple male partners.
Many medicines can have side-effects, so taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has to be a considered decision.
The drugs in PrEP have been used as part of HIV treatment for many years. Evidence has shown that they have a low risk of serious side effects. Most people taking PrEP do not report side effects. Some people have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and tiredness during the first month but these usually go away. Rarely, kidney or liver function may be affected by PrEP.
People taking PrEP have regular check-ups at a clinic, where they will be tested to ensure any side effects are assessed.
For information on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection, please our PrEP information pages.
No. HIV diagnostic tests cannot determine who passed the infection to who.
In general no. A skilled healthcare provider can generally estimate how long you have been infected by looking at the levels of virus in your body (your T-cell count) and whether or not you have had any opportunistic infections.
If you are currently suffering from symptoms of acute HIV infection, a healthcare provider can usually conclude that infection occurred within the past few weeks.
If it’s been less than 72 hours since the condom broke, you may be able to take medication that could prevent you from getting infected with HIV, even if your partner is HIV-positive. This medication is called post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure to HIV (PEPSE).
If it’s been longer than 72 hours, PEPSE will not protect you from HIV, and you will need to explore HIV testing options. In most cases, you will have to wait at least 2 weeks after possible exposure to infection before an HIV test can provide accurate results.
If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and get tested. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment and avoid becoming ill. However, it may be two weeks or more after exposure to HIV before a test provides accurate results.
If you’ve had sex with somebody who may be HIV positive, you can reduce your chances of HIV infection by taking post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure (PEPSE) within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing HIV. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing HIV transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive.
Abstinence from sex means not engaging in any form of sexual activity where there is a risk of exchanging fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, rectal mucous). This includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex.
No. Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean a person will also be diagnosed with AIDS. Healthcare professionals diagnose AIDS only when people with HIV disease begin to get severe opportunistic infections (OI), or their T-cell counts fall below a certain level.
HIV is found only in body fluids, so you cannot get HIV by shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug (or by using the same toilet or towel). While low levels of HIV can be found in saliva, sharing cups or utensils has never been shown to transmit HIV.
No, you can’t get HIV from kissing someone who has HIV.
No, HIV does not survive outside the body and fluids like sweat and saliva that are typically secreted during these activities have never been shown to transmit HIV.
No, Insects can not transmit HIV. Research has shown that HIV does not replicate or survive well in insects. In addition, blood-eating insects digest their food and do not inject blood from the last person they bite into the next person.
While complications from HIV infection remain a possibility, current treatments and medications are giving people with HIV a positive prognosis and normal life-span. This makes patients living with HIV vulnerable to the same health conditions that affect all people as they age. This is why it is important to maintain good health throughout your life.
All Umbrella clinics offer HIV testing.
If you’re aged 16 or over and living in Birmingham and Solihull you can also request a free STI self-sampling kit, which allows you to get tested from home.