Post Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposure to HIV (PEPSE)

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), if administered promptly, is a treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has been transmitted. The Eddystone Trust has made a 2 minute film about it; click here to view it on their website

It’s important to say that it is not a cure for HIV; it works to prevent the virus from entering the cells in the body, which stops the infection. It is an emergency measure and is a combination of powerful drugs that you would need to take for 28 days, and can have side effects. You would need to start the treatment within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, but the sooner you start PEP the more chance you would have of it being effective.

PEP can only be obtained from a sexual health service like our SWISH Service /HIV clinics, or an Accident & Emergency department of a hospital. It is not available from your GP.

If you want PEP, there are a number of questions that you will be asked, including:

  • Who did you have sex with and the chances of that person having HIV
  • What type of sex happened (vaginal, oral or anal?)
  • If the other person definitely had HIV, do you know their viral load?

Remember if you are having sex while taking PEP, always use a condom.