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HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a medication taken within 72 hours of a potential HIV exposure to prevent HIV infection.

The word “prophylaxis” means to control or prevent the spread of an infection or disease.

HIV PEP is a 28-day course of medication.

HIV PEP must be started as soon as you know of the possible exposure to HIV or within 72 hours (3 days) after this to ensure effectiveness.

While taking HIV PEP, it is important to keep using other HIV prevention methods, such as condoms and new sterile needles when injecting drugs

Who is HIV PEP for?

HIV PEP is for people who are HIV negative or do not know their HIV status, and who in the last 72 hours:

  • • Had sex with someone and didn’t use a condom, or the condom broke, and are unsure of their HIV status
  • • Were sexually assaulted
  • • Shared needles or works (cotton, cookers, or water) with someone, and are unsure of their HIV status

Timing is important. You must start PEP as soon as you can after possible exposure. 

HIV PEP is for emergencies. It can’t take the place of proven, ongoing ways to prevent HIV like using condoms, taking HIV PrEP (a pill or injection that lowers your chances of getting HIV), and not sharing needles or works.

 If you know you may be exposed to HIV often (having a sexual partner or partners who may be HIV-positive), talk to your nurse or doctor about HIV PrEP.

If you’re a healthcare worker and think you may have been exposed to HIV at work, go to your doctor or the emergency room right away. Then report the incident to your supervisor. HIV transmission in healthcare settings is infrequent, and there are procedures and safety devices that can lower your chances of coming into contact with HIV while caring for patients.

Where to find HIV PEP

More Information

What is HIV PrEP?

HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication taken to prevent HIV transmission. Learn more by watching the video linked below:

HIV PrEP works by blocking the HIV virus’ ability to multiply itself in the body, therefore, preventing you from getting HIV.

When taken as prescribed, HIV PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. HIV PrEP Adherence is essential to maintaining effectiveness.

HIV PrEP does NOT protect against other STIs; to protect yourself against other STIs, condoms or other barriers like dental dams are a great choice.

Studies have shown that HIV PrEP can be beneficial for people of various gender identities and sexual orientations.

Is HIV PrEP only available as a pill?

Currently, there are two types of HIV PrEP on the market, a daily oral medication and a long-acting injectable form. Both are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Is HIV PrEP for you?

PrEP is not only a preventative tool, it becomes a part of your daily routine. Consider PrEP if you:

  • Are sexually active
  • Are thinking about dating someone who is living with HIV (read about U=U here)
  • Are trying to have a baby with a partner who is living
    with HIV
  • Do not always use condoms during sex
  • Recently had a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
  • Have more than one sexual partner or your partner has sex with other partners
  • Have a partner who does not regularly get screened for STIs or HIV
  • Have sex for money, drugs, or a place to stay
  • Tends to have sex while using drugs/alcohol

The best way to find out if HIV PrEP is for you is to consult your healthcare provider!

4 Steps to HIV PrEP

  1. Take HIV PrEP as prescribed
  2. If you forget to take your HIV PrEP, take it as soon as you remember
  3. Visit your doctor for refills and checkups every 3 months
  4. Don’t stop, restart, or change how you take your HIV PrEP without talking to your doctor.

Remember, HIV PrEP is available to you whether or not you have insurance. Be sure to ask your pharmacist or provider about patient assistance.