If you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, you can access an emergency HIV prevention medication called PEP.
What is PEP?
PEP stands for:
POST = after
EXPOSURE = coming into contact with HIV
PROFILAXIS = treatment to prevent an infection
PEP is for EMERGENCY HIV prevention. PEP is 28 days of anti-retroviral therapy. In order to prevent HIV with PEP, you MUST start the medication no more than 72 hours after exposure to HIV. Medication for PEP must be taken at the same time everyday for 28 days.
When is PEP recommended?
If you or someone you know has had:
– Unprotected vaginal/anal sex with someone who is HIV positive*
– Exposure to non-sterile injection equipment
PEP for Survivors of Sexual Assault
If you live in Ohio, PEP is offered free of charge as a part of each hospital’s sexual assault kit. We advise visiting the nearest Emergency Room as soon as possible (at least 72 hours after the assault). You may need to ask the doctor directly for PEP for HIV.
How can I get PEP?
If you need PEP in Ohio, you should go to an Urgent Care or Emergency Room immediately. A doctor will assess your risk before prescribing PEP.
What are the symptoms of PEP?
PEP is strong HIV medication. During the first few days of taking PEP, many people experience nausea (upset stomach), feeling tired, diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms, communicate with your doctor before you decide to stop taking PEP. You MUST take the full 28 days of medication to prevent HIV. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you start PEP immediately after HIV exposure to prevent the transmission of HIV to your baby. Inform your doctor if your are pregnant or breastfeeding during your ER visit.
Paying for PEP?
If you are prescribed PEP but have not been sexually assaulted and your insurance does not cover PEP, there are many patient assistance programs that can help cover costs of PEP. The drug(s) your doctor chooses to prescribe as PEP will determine which assistance program you should use. Talk with your doctor or local health clinic for advice on how to get enrolled in these programs.
Keep in mind…
HIV positive people with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit HIV. Therefore if you have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive but undetectable, you do not need to take PEP.