What to do now


Although you haven’t been at risk from HIV, there’s a chance you may have picked up other sexually transmitted infections or that you or your partner might need emergency contraception. You can be checked for these confidentially at any sexual health clinic.

You can also get tested for HIV. If you’ve never tested, or it’s been more than a year since your last test, it’s a good idea to test now.

Who gets PEP


The people who are likely to be prescribed PEP are those who have had receptive or insertive anal sex or receptive vaginal/frontal sex (or shared injecting equipment) with someone who is HIV positive and has a detectable or unknown viral load.

It's also recommended if you've had receptive anal sex with someone with an unknown HIV status who is from an area with high rates of HIV, such as sub-Saharan Africa.

If you've had insertive anal sex, insertive or receptive vaginal/frontal sex (or shared injecting equipment) with someone with an unknown HIV status from a high-risk area for HIV it may be considered.

It'll also be considered if you've had insertive vaginal/frontal sex with someone who is HIV positive with an unknown or detectable viral load.

Who doesn't get PEP


If your partner has been on effective treatment for at least six months and has an undetectable viral load then they cannot pass on HIV, and you won’t need PEP.

Consider PrEP


If you think you might be at risk of HIV again in the future, you might want to consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

PrEP is a pill you can take to protect you from HIV. It is extremely effective when taken properly, and means that you’re protecting your own HIV negative status.

You'll be able to find out if you should be on PrEP and if you're eligible for PrEP on the NHS at your local sexual health clinic.

Trans and non-binary people


Hormones are safe to take at the same time as PEP. There’s no evidence that PEP or PrEP drugs diminish the effects of hormone therapy for trans people.

There has been little research so far regarding HIV risk following genital surgeries for both trans women and trans men. Some types of lower surgeries may theoretically increase susceptibility to HIV and other STIs.

Using condoms with vaginal, frontal or anal sex will protect you from HIV and other STIs. You also might want to find out about PrEP if you think you might be at risk in the future.

If you have any concerns about your sexual health following lower surgery, it’s best to discuss them with your doctor.

CliniQ has more information on PEP/PrEP for trans and non-binary people.

What is PEP?


When people have been put at risk of HIV, PEP may prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body.


  • Can stop you becoming infected with HIV.
  • Must be started as soon as possible after exposure, preferably within 24 hours. It can be prescribed up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, but it's best not to wait that long.
  • Is available for free from NHS sexual health (GUM) clinics and hospital Accident and Emergency departments (A&E).
  • Involves taking anti-HIV medicines for up to four weeks. Now uses newer medication with fewer side effects.

PEP is not a cure for HIV and is not guaranteed to prevent HIV from taking hold once the virus has entered the body. Condoms remain the most efficient way of preventing the transmission of HIV and other STIs.

We're here for you


Remember, whatever happens we're here for you. If you'd like help or support, get in touch with THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.