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How Soon Should I Get PEP?

The sooner PEP is started after exposure to HIV the better. It is most effective when started within 24 hours, but it needs to be started within 72 hours. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that PEP won’t work. PEP usually isn’t given more than 72 hours (3 days) after exposure as studies show it is unlikely to be effective.

However, if you are unable to access PEP within the 72 hours, even if it has been up to 5-7 days since the exposure occurred, it is still worth seeking medical advice to see what your options are. This may include commencing a 3-drug combination of antiretroviral medications as soon as possible just in case you have become HIV positive. In this case, you would be starting very early treatment and minimising the damage to your immune system.

Is PEP A Cure For HIV?

There is no cure for HIV once it has established itself in the body. However, if taken within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure to HIV, PEP can, in most cases, prevent it from establishing itself in the body.

Want to Talk to Someone about PEP?

Queensland has PEP information lines if you want to talk to someone about your risk and if you would be recommended to take PEP, as well as up-to-date locations of where to get PEP. 

Pros & Cons of Taking PEP

Benefits:

  • Taking PEP may prevent you from becoming HIV positive.

  • You only need to take PEP for a month (28 days). If you become HIV positive you may have to take anti-HIV treatments for a lifetime.

Disadvantages:

  • Some people may experience some side-effects such as nausea and headaches, though some people will experience no side-effects.

  • You have to remember to take PEP at regular times of the day for a month.

Do I Need PEP?

You might need PEP if:

  • You’re having condomless anal sex with someone who has or may have HIV

  • If the condom breaks/slips off during sex with someone who has or may have HIV

  • You’re sharing needles or syringes with a person who has or may have HIV

If your exposure to HIV is through a person with HIV who has an undetectable viral load, PEP is not recommended, as there is no risk of transmission.

PEP vs PrEP

PEP
PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and is the focus of this website.
It is a month-long course of drugs to help prevent HIV infection that is taken after a possible exposure to HIV.

 

PrEP
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
It is a drug taken daily over a sustained period to help prevent HIV infection before exposure.

What is PEP?

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a month-long course of drugs to help prevent HIV infection that is taken after a possible exposure to HIV.

The sooner someone starts PEP the better. It is most effective when started within 24 hours, but it must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

The PEP drugs are the same drugs that HIV-positive people use to reduce its impact on their body.

PEP is short for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.

Post = after


Exposure = a situation where HIV enters someone’s body (e.g., during sex without a condom or by sharing needles or injecting equipment)


Prophylaxis = prevention of disease

PEP isn’t guaranteed to work but does in the majority of cases.

Information curteousy of Get PEP.Info