Condoms are one of the most effective way of preventing HIV (and STI) infection via vaginal and anal sex as well as oral sex.  They should be put on before any sexual contact as HIV can be passed on through pre-come, semen (cum) and vaginal fluid.


PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is the use of HIV medication to prevent someone who is HIV negative from becoming HIV positive. PrEP can be purchased from Iwantprepnow. 

What is PrEP?

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PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxsis and can stop HIV infection after the virus has entered the body. It is not guaranteed to work but has a very high success rate. PEP must be started no later 72 hours following the exposure to HIV. PEP can be accessed from your local sexual health clinic (GUM) or Accident and Emergency department.


People living with HIV can help prevent the transmission of HIV by ensuring excellent adherence to medication and maintenance of an undetectable viral load. This is referred to as undetectable=untransmittable.

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment that can stop you becoming infected with HIV if you have been exposed to infection. For it to be effective PEP needs to start as soon as possible after exposure to HIV and no later than 72 hours. PEP treatment lasts for 28 days. However,PEP does not stop HIV transmission in 100% of instances. It can be accessed through a sexual health/GUM clinic or A&E department.

To access PEP click here

HIV is not easily passed on. HIV cannot pass through unbroken skin and is normally transmitted by unprotected (condomless) sex.

HIV cannot get through unbroken skin so there is no risk of passing on HIV from casual social contact.

The virus cannot be passed on from:

  • tears
  • sweat
  • saliva
  • urine or faeces

This means you cannot get HIV from toilets seats, kissing, shaking hands, hugging or sharing cutlery and you cannot get HIV from mosquitos.

The only way to know if you have HIV or not is to have an HIV test. The earlier you know your HIV status, the less impact the virus will have on your health. The majority of people who test early and start treatment, live a long and healthy life.

HIV testing is free and confidential and you don’t have to use your real name if you prefer not to.

More information about testing

When to test?

  • Test at the start of a relationship as part of a full sexual health screen check-up.
  • After unprotected (condomless) sex that could have put you at risk of HIV you should always take a test.
  • Test at least once a year or more frequently if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.
  • Remember – a negative test result in the past is no longer accurate of you have taken risks since.
HIV is found in blood, cum (semen), vaginal fluids and breast milk.
The most common ways of transmitting HIV are through unprotected (condomless) sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal and anal sex), sharing injecting equipment and to a child during birth or pregnancy.
The vrius can only be passedto someone else if the person living with HIV has a ‘detectable’ viral load  – meaning that the levels of the HIV in the persons blood are high enough to cause onward transmission.
Someone living with diagnosed HIV and taking effective medication can reach a point where the virus is ‘undetectable’ in the blood. This means the levels of HIV are so low they cannot pass the virus on to HIV negative people.
HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus. Once in the body, if left untreated, the virus weakens the immune system by attacking the cells that help the body fight off infections and diseases. There is no cure or vaccine for HIV. However, with early diagnosis , HIV is now a treatable and manageable condition.

The symptoms of a recent infection with HIV can differ from person-to-person and some people may not get any symptoms at all.

Around one to four weeks after becoming infected with HIV, some people will experience symptoms that can feel like flu. This may last up to two weeks and you may only get some of the flu symptoms such as fever, body rash, sore throat, swollen glands, headache or fatigue – or none at all.

The only way to know if you have HIV, is to have an HIV test.