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HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

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Published on November 09, 2016. Last modified on September 03, 2019

PEP involves taking anti HIV Drugs as soon as possible after potential exposure to prevent HIV  The clock is ticking - For PEP to be effective you have 72 hours to start medication 

What is PEP?

PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is an emergency medication taken immediately after you are exposed to HIV that can stop HIV from infecting your body.  It must be started within 72 hours of exposure (the sooner the better) and a full course is needed - 28 days – to be effective.

If you are HIV negative, PEP can protect you in an emergency – if you had anal or vaginal sex without a condom with someone who has or might have HIV or if you were exposed while injecting needles. PEP is also available to workers who may have been exposed to HIV. 

Is PEP right for me?

PEP is not the right choice for people who may be exposed to HIV frequently. PEP is given after a potential exposure to HIV, which means more drugs and higher doses are needed to block infection than with PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. If you often have sex without a condom with a partner who is HIV-positive talk with your provider about PrEP.

How do I get PEP in Monterey County?

If you were exposed to HIV, immediately go to a local Emergency Room and ask for PEP. 

Are PEP and PrEP different?

Yes, PrEP is taken when people at high risk for HIV take HIV medicines (sold under the brand name Truvada) daily to lower their chances of getting HIV. If you are at ongoing risk for HIV, speak to your doctor about PrEP or check out our list of local Monterey County providers prescribing PrEP.

Need more PEP Info? Check out these resources.

CDC PEP Basics: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/pep.html

For Providers: