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 to infectious hazards at work. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through sharing needles and works to prepare drugs or if you’ve been sexually assaulted, talk to your health care provider or an emergency room doctor about PEP right away.
PEP must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV, but the sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts. If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it once or twice daily for 28 days. PEP is effective in preventing HIV when administered correctly, but not 100%.