Does PEP work?

PEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV by about 80% after needle stick injuries. We do not know for certain how well it works after sexual exposure, but the information we have suggests it does reduce the risk, but is not 100% effective.

Who should consider PEP?

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours should seek information about PEP from a sexual health clinic, emergency department, or your local doctor. PEP is used if you have has a risky contact, such as unprotected anal or vaginal sex or sharing injecting equipment AND the person is at higher risk of HIV.

What about other drugs while on PEP?

PEP drugs can affect the way in which other drugs (prescription or non-prescription) work in the body. They also affect the way the liver processes other drugs. This can lead to an increase in blood levels of some drugs to a point that is dangerous or even lethal. It is very important to discuss with your doctor any drugs (including alcohol and other recreational drugs) you are taking or planning to take while on PEP..

Does PEP mean I can now forget safe sex and safe injecting?

No! PEP is not a vaccine or a cure for HIV/ AIDS. It is not yet proven that PEP works and it is therefore a ‘last resort’ treatment. Safe sex and safe injecting practices are still the most effective way to prevent HIV infection and infection with other sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses like hepatitis B and C.

The facts about PEP

PEP is a 4 week course of anti-HIV drugs that may prevent you becoming HIV positive after an exposure to the virus. • It is an important option to consider if you think you may have been exposed to HIV. • You don’t have long to act! If you think you have been exposed to HIV, you should see a doctor urgently, and definitely within 72 hours. • PEP can have some unpleasant side effects and may react with other drugs you are taking. • There is no evidence that PEP will work in every case. • PEP is not a vaccine or a cure for HIV/ AIDS. The best way to avoid being infected with HIV is through safe sex and safe injecting practices.

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