What is PEP?

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking medicine to prevent HIV after a possible exposure. PEP Must Be Started Within Hours of Possible Exposure to HIVTalk right away (within hours) to your health care provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about PEP if you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV: during sex (for example, if the condom broke), through sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs (for example, cookers), or if you’ve been sexually assaulted. The sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts. If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it daily for days. PEP is for Emergency Situations PEP is given after a possible exposure to HIV. PEP is not a substitute for regular use of other HIV prevention. PEP is not the right choice for people who may be exposed to HIV frequently. If you are at ongoing risk for HIV, such as through repeated exposures to HIV, talk to your health care provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). How well does PEP work?
If taken within hours after possible exposure, PEP is highly effective in preventing HIV. But to be safe, you should take other actions to protect your partners while you are taking PEP. This includes always using condoms with sexual partners and not sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs.

Are there any side effects?

PEP is safe but may cause side effects like nausea in some people. In almost all cases, these side effects can be treated and aren’t life-threatening. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is short-term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure, either occupationally or through sexual intercourse. Within the health sector, PEP should be provided as part of a comprehensive universal precautions package that reduces staff exposure pep hiv to infectious hazards at work. The same drugs that treat HIV can fight the virus as it tries to infect you. These medications are called antiretrovirals. PEP is a combination of three drugs. You take them once or twice a day for days: For adults, the CDC recommends tenofovir, emtricitabine (these two drugs come in one pill), and a third drug, either raltegravir or dolutegravir. Women who are in early pregnancy, who are sexually active and could become pregnant while taking PEP, or who were sexually assaulted without birth control should take raltegravir rather than dolutegravir because of a risk of birth defects. Children or older who need PEP usually get the same drugs in different doses. Your doctor will take a sample of your blood when you start PEP and may want to test for other sexually transmitted diseases. You’ll need HIV tests after you’re through with PEP to make sure you didn’t get the virus.

If you’re on PEP, use condoms when you have sex to lower the chances that you’ll come into contact with HIV again or, if you have the virus, that you’ll spread it. If PEP doesn’t work and you get HIV, it might be because the virus resists some of the medications. If you’re exposed to HIV a lot — for example, because you have multiple sex partners or use injected drugs — talk with your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). That’s a medicine you take every day to keep HIV from taking hold in your body. How Can I Pay for PEP? If your doctor gives you PEP after you were sexually assaulted, the federal Office for Victims of Crime might cover part or all of your related health care costs. If you work in health care and had contact with HIV on the job, your health insurance or workers’ compensation will probably pay for PEP. If your doctor gives you PEP for another reason and you don’t have insurance or can’t get coverage, you might be able to get the drugs for free from the companies that make them. The doctor’s office or hospital can apply for you. PEP stands for post exposure prophylaxis. PEP is a series of pills you can start taking very soon after you’ve been exposed to HIV that lowers your chances of getting it. But you have to start PEP within hours, or days, after you were exposed to HIV, or it won’t work. The sooner you start, the better it works — every hour matters.

You take PEP  times a day for at least days. The medicines used in PEP are called antiretroviral medications (ART). These medicines work by stopping HIV from spreading through your body. PEP is for people who may have been exposed to HIV in the last  days. PEP might be right for you if: You had sex with someone who may have HIV and didn’t use a condom, or the condom broke You were sexually assaulted You shared needles or works (like cotton, cookers, or water) with someone who may have HIV If you were exposed to HIV in the last  days and want PEP, see a nurse or doctor or go to the emergency room immediately. Timing is really important. You must start PEP as soon as you can after being exposed to HIV for it to work. PEP is for emergencies. It can’t take the place of proven, ongoing ways to prevent HIV — like using condoms, taking PrEP (a daily pill that lowers your chances of getting HIV), and not sharing needles or works. If you know you may be exposed to HIV often (like if you have a sexual partner or partners who may be HIV-positive), talk to your nurse or doctor about PrEP.

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