Need to talk to someone?
Have you taken a risk?
When people have been put at risk of HIV there’s a treatment called PEP that may prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body:
- PEP stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis
- It involves taking anti-HIV drugs for four weeks
- It must be started as soon as possible after unsafe sex or a condom not working – ideally within 24 hours but definitely within 72 hours (three days)
- There can be side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea and prolonged headaches
- PEP isn’t guaranteed to work.
Go straight to your nearest sexual health clinic (see links on the right) or hospital accident and emergency department . It’s important that you do not exceed the 72 hour time limit, as PEP is not likely to be prescribed any later than this.
You will need to explain to the doctor when and how you were at risk and any other relevant information (eg. your partner’s HIV status, the type of sex you had etc).
If either partner is HIV positive, the doctor will also need to know their viral load. This will be taken into consideration as they decide whether or not to prescribe PEP, so take that information with you if you have it.
PEP is not a cure for HIV and is not guaranteed to prevent HIV from taking hold once the virus has entered the body. Condoms and lube for sex remain the most efficient way of preventing the spread of HIV.