Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

If you are HIV negative and you know or even think you may have been exposed to HIV during sex with a person you know is living with HIV (for example, a condom broke or you didn’t use one), you should visit the emergency department of your local hospital as soon as possible.

You can be started on PEP – a short course of anti-HIV medication that may be able to prevent you from getting infected.

PEP needs to be taken within 72 hours of exposure to be effective.  Evidence shows that while PEP can reduce the chance of becoming infected with HIV, it is not as effective as using condoms and lube for sex. So it presents an extra safety net in the case of a condom breaking, but is not a replacement for condom use.

There is some data that suggests PEP will work, but there have also been cases where it has failed. The effectiveness of PEP varies, depending on issues such as the delay between exposure and treatment, and the HIV viral load of the person you had sex with.

Using condoms and lube for anal and vaginal sex is the most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV as well as other STIs.

Got questions about PEP? We're here to help so send us your question and we'll get back to you.