Now is the perfect time to start PrEP, says Dr Alan McOwan from 56 Dean Street

Lockdown has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to beat HIV. In the last few months there’s been a lot less hooking up. That’s broken the chain of infection. If we all HIV test now, we can find and treat all the hidden HIV. That won’t just be great for people’s health, it’ll also clear all the infectious HIV from our community, says Dr Alan McOwan, lead clinician at 56 Dean Street

If you haven’t already tested since your last condomless sex, I’m urging you to order a home HIV test now.

But things are changing. Lockdown is lifting. Grindr is getting busier. Perhaps now is a good time to make a fresh start. PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) is a treatment started before sex that protects people from catching HIV. It is more effective than condoms when taken correctly. (Though unlike condoms, PrEP doesn’t protect against other STIs).

Now is the perfect time to start PrEP.  If you’ve never taken it, I’m asking you to consider it.

Be honest with yourself. Is there a chance that you’re going to have condomless anal sex in the next few months? If so it’s time to take action to protect yourself.

Check out this video to hear more about PrEP.

Free PrEP is currently available through the Impact trial. There are still 1000’s of places available in England. However, the last date you can join the study is 12th July. Visit the Impact Trial website ( or contact your local sexual health clinic for more details.

NHS funded PrEP will launch later in the year. People who’ve joined the Impact study are guaranteed free supplies until it’s available. People starting  PrEP after 12th July will not be able to access free drugs but can buy it until it’s available on the NHS.

The ‘I want PrEP now’ website ( has a list of online suppliers that allow you to buy up to 3 month’s supply of PrEP for personal use and import it into the country. Your local sexual health clinic can provide all the monitoring tests for free. If you live in London you can also buy it through ‘additional private care’ from 56 Dean Street ( and John Hunter clinic’s ( PrEP Shop services.

We can use COVID-19 lockdown to end HIV transmission.

Test for HIV now and start PrEP before you have any condomless anal sex.

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