What is PEP?

PEP stands for Post-exposure prophylaxis

This is medication that you can take to reduce the risk of HIV infecting your body AFTER you may have been exposed. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV and might need PEP talk to us urgently.

This medication must be started within 72 hours of a potential exposure. But ideally as soon as possible.

Where can I get PEP?

You can get PEP for free from the NHS at Sexual Health clinics or local A&E departments.

If you think you might need PEP call us urgently on 01159 627 627

Do I need PEP?

Do I need PEP?

If you’re HIV-negative or don’t know your HIV status, and within the last 72 hours have you:

• Been exposed to HIV during sex, or had sex with someone at higher risk for HIV ( e.g. if you are a gay man and the condom broke during anal sex)

• Shared equipment to inject drugs

• Been sexually assaulted

There are clear and specific guidelines about who needs PEP. A doctor or nurse will need to ask you some questions to assess if PEP is right for you.

If you have any concern or suspicion you might need PEP, please talk to our sexual health service urgently or attend your local A&E straight away.

Do I need PEP? Use this tool to help


How to take PEP

How to take PEP?

PEP medication needs to be taken for one month after the first dose for it to be effective.

PEP should be taken exactly as instructed by you clinician, and as the written medication instructions advise.

Side effects from PEP are likely to be mild. They may cause stomach upset, nausea, headaches or tiredness.

Tell your doctor or nurse about any other prescriptions/non-prescription medications you are taking to ensure there are no interactions with PEP.


Follow up

You will need a follow up HIV test 45 days after you have completed the course of PEP.

You will also be advised about any other follow up tests you may require.


Clock and PEP image

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is medication that can be used after the event if you've been at risk of HIV transmission taken to reduce the risk of the HIV infecting the body. 

PEP may be necessary after having unprotected sex or a condom breaking with someone whose HIV status is unknown or positive. To work PEP must be taken within 72 hours, ideally within 24 hours. PEP is available free on the NHS. 

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