HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). … PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected.

PEP is a short course of HIV medicines taken very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body. You must start it within 72 hours after you were exposed to HIV, or it won’t work. Every hour counts. If you are prescribed PEP, you will take HIV medicines every day for 28 days.

You may be prescribed PEP if you are HIV-negative or don’t know your HIV status, and in the last 72 hours you:

  • Think you may have been exposed to HIV during sex (for example, you had a condom break)
  • Shared needles or works to prepare drugs
  • Were sexually assaulted

PEP is effective in preventing HIV infection when it’s taken correctly, but it’s not 100% effective. The sooner you start PEP after a possible HIV exposure, the better.

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