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What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) inc Where can I get PEP?

What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)?

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is medication which you can take if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours (three days).

It is a 28-day treatment that reduces the chance that you will contract HIV after a recent risk of exposure to the virus. In this situation the risk is unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive or thought possibly to be living with HIV. Unprotected sex means sexual activity without a condom, or sex with a condom which breaks or comes off during sex. PEP is not guaranteed to work, and some people may be living with HIV despite taking PEP.

PEP is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours after potential exposure but must be started within 72 hours (three days) of coming into contact with the virus.

Although PEP can be very useful in emergency situations, using condoms during sex is the most effective way of preventing HIV.

Do I need to take PEP? Expand

PEP is only recommended following higher risk exposure (for example, where sexual partner is known to be HIV positive). If a sexual partner is living with HIV and has an undetectable viral load, you will not need PEP as it won’t be possible for the virus to be transmitted.

If you are HIV negative or have never had an HIV test, you should seek advice if, in the last 72 hours:

  • You think you may have come into contact with HIV during unprotected sex, or…
  • You were sexually assaulted by a stranger.
Where can I get PEP? Expand

PEP is available free of charge from bSHaW Specialist Sexual Health Clinics.

However, please be aware that all Clinics are closed on Bank Holidays, therefore in case of an emergency:

If somebody needs PEP when the clinics are closed people should go to A&E at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for sexual exposure and for occupational exposure the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) or A&E.

Testing for HIV Testing for HIV
What is Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)? What is Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?

Need to speak to someone?

If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.

Call 0300 303 2880 to book an appointment or return to the homepage for information on all bSHaW services.