Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency treatment for people who’ve been exposed to HIV. It involves taking a short course of HIV medication called antiretrovirals. These medications prevent the virus from multiplying and taking hold in your body.
To prevent HIV, you must start PEP within 72 hours of your suspected exposure to the virus. PEP isn’t effective if you wait longer than that to begin treatment.
We recommend PEP if you’re HIV-negative or unsure of your HIV status and think you were exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours. You may need PEP if you:
Had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person
Shared needles with an HIV-positive person
Were sexually assaulted
PEP is recommended if you think you were exposed to HIV through sex, sharing needles, or at work.
PEP is for emergency use only and isn’t recommended for people who regularly engage in behaviors that put them at risk of getting HIV. For people at risk of HIV, our providers recommend pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which prevents people at risk of HIV from getting HIV.
Before starting PEP, we talk to you about your exposure and review your medical history as well test for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We don’t test for HIV until after you complete your PEP treatment.
We then prescribe your PEP medication, which you take every day for 28 days. Regular follow-up appointments are necessary while you’re on PEP to monitor for side effects and symptoms of HIV.
While taking PEP, you may have headaches, insomnia, or an upset stomach.
Once you complete your course of PEP, you return to the office so we can test for HIV and other STDs. When taken as prescribed, PEP is very effective but not 100% effective.
If you test positive for HIV following PEP, Reza Health offers HIV care to help you manage the virus and prevent complications.
If you think you were exposed to HIV, call us or schedule a consultation online today. Don’t wait. The sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of a full recovery.