Doctors now have a successful HIV prevention option to help prevent someone becoming HIV-positive after a potential exposure to the HIV virus. It’s called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). The use of PEP can help considerably in preventing HIV-positive results if it’s taken within 72 hours of potential exposure.
What is PEP?
PEP is a prescription medication that reduces the chances of HIV-negative individuals from becoming HIV-positive after a potential exposure to the virus.
How doe PEP Work?
When HIV enters the body, it attacks the immune system, using the body’s CD4 T cells to create more copies of the virus and spread the infection. If HIV entered a person’s body, PEP tries to stop the virus from spreading by protecting the CD4 T cells. This prevents the HIV from creating more copies of itself and the individual can remain HIV negative. For PEP to achieve best results, it needs to be taken as soon as possible – within 72 hours from the potential exposure to HIV. PEP medication must continue to be taken daily for a total of 28 days.
Who Should Take PEP?
Talk right away (within 72 hours) to your health care physician, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about PEP if you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during any of these activities:
- during sex (for example, if the condom broke)
- through sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs (for example, cookers)
- if you’ve been sexually assaulted
The sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts!
Getting Started on PEP
If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, seek help from a medical professional immediately.
TrueCare offers FREE PEP and PrEP guidance, and our Health Navigators are here to answer your questions. We also provide confidential consultations to individuals. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our main line (760) 736-6767 and request to talk to one of our PrEP Health Navigators. If this is a PEP emergency, please ask to be scheduled at our one of our QuickCare locations.
Is PEP the same as PrEP?
No, PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis meaning after a potential exposure to HIV. PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis meaning before an exposure to HIV. To learn more about PrEP, please check out our PrEP blog.
Does PEP have any side effects?
PEP is safe to use, but some people experience side effects. These can range from headache and fatigue to nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea. These side effects usually go away in a few days. Tell your health care provider about any side affects you experience, especially if they don’t go away after a short time.
How effective is PEP?
PEP is highly effective in preventing HIV if it’s taken withing 72 hours after the potential exposure. Early treatment increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
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