PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a 28-day course of pills that HIV-negative people can take to prevent infection if you have come into contact with HIV. PEP helps prevent HIV infection if you start within 72 hours (3 days) of the possible infection.
Should I go on PEP?
- Did you bottom without a condom with someone who is either HIV-positive and not on meds or someone whose HIV status you don’t know?
- Did the condom break and you got a load up your butt?
- Did you top someone raw who is either HIV-positive and not taking meds or someone whose HIV status you don’t know?
- Have you shared needles with someone?
If your answer to any of these is yes, talk to your doctor or come talk to us at Strut right away. We’ll talk about your options.
What is PEP for?
PEP is for HIV-negative people who may have been exposed to HIV during a single event.
PEP is not a substitute for other proven HIV prevention methods, such as correct and consistent condom use, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), or use of sterile injection equipment.
How does PEP work?
You have to start PEP within 72 hours of exposure for PEP to work. Seek PEP right away if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV. Your doctor will determine what treatment is right for you based on how you may have been exposed to HIV.
PEP consists of 2-3 antiretroviral medications that are taken for 28 days. PEP is safe but may cause side effects like nausea in some people. These side effects can be treated and are not life threatening. PEP is not 100% effective; it does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not become infected with HIV.
What happens after I start PEP?
- Make sure you take your meds. PEP does not work if you do not take the medications.
- Continue to use condoms with sex partners while taking PEP and do not use injection equipment that has been used by others. This will help avoid spreading the virus to others if you become infected.
- Return to your healthcare provider for more HIV testing about 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after the potential exposure to HIV. Your healthcare provider will give you a follow-up schedule.
For more information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers two technical resources if you want to learn more.