HIV PEP

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is a treatment that can reduce the likelihood of a HIV negative person getting HIV after they have been exposed to the virus.  It involves taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV, but the sooner you start PEP, the better.

PEP should be used only in emergency situations. It’s not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently. PEP is not intended to replace regular use of other HIV prevention methods, such as the consistent use of condoms during sex.


Is PEP right for me?

The decision about whether to use PEP depends on a number of factors;

  • The level of risk;
  • If you are at ongoing risk for HIV,PEP may not be suitable you can talk this through with the sexual health team

PEP may be used if;

  • You think you could have been exposed to HIV during sex
  • Have shared needles or drug preparation equipment (“works”)
  • Were sexually assaulted

In addition, PEP may be prescribed for a health care worker following a possible exposure to HIV at work, for example, from a needlestick injury.

  • How quickly you access PEP;
  • it must be started within 72 hours
  • According to the research, PEP will probably not prevent HIV infection if it is started later than 72 hours after a person is exposed to HIV
  • PEP is effective in preventing HIV infection when it’s taken correctly, but it’s not 100% effective
  • Your willingness to adhere (stick) to the treatment;
  • You will need to take HIV medication for 28 days
  • You may need to return to the services for further tests
  • PEP is safe but may cause side effects like nausea in some people. These side effects can be treated and aren’t life-threatening

According to the research, PEP will probably not prevent HIV infection if it is started later than 72 hours after a person is exposed to HIV

If you think you were recently exposed to HIV, contact the service immediately (0800 7720478) or go to Accident and Emergency right away. They will help to decide whether you should receive PEP.

Click here for more information about PEP