Post-exposure prophylaxis

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment you may forget to play safely.

This is when it’s important to consider getting post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a course of treatment for guys who think they may have been put at risk of HIV infection.

How does PEP work?

PEP involves a 4-week course of HIV treatment that helps prevent someone from HIV infection.

PEP works by stopping the virus from replicating after recent exposure. The cells originally infected with HIV die naturally within a short period of time, reducing the likelihood for HIV to establish itself in the body.

Who is PEP for?

PEP is for anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV. Some of the most common reasons for needing PEP medication include:

  • Having condomless anal sex or if the condom breaks/slips off during sex with someone who has or may have HIV
  • Sharing needles or syringes with a person who has or may have HIV

When should I take PEP?

If you believe you’ve been exposed to HIV, you should start PEP as soon as possible, ideally within a few hours after the risk event. If it is not started within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure to HIV it is likely that the drug will be ineffective.

What if I test positive after PEP?

If you test positive for HIV, it’s recommended you start treatment right away. The numerous treatment methods now available has made HIV a very manageable condition by suppressing the virus to an undetectable viral load and enabling thousands of guys in NSW lead longer, healthier lives. You can view resources, workshops and other information for newly diagnosed HIV positive gay men here.

Where can I get PEP?

Contact your local sexual health clinic, hospital accident and emergency department or the PEP NSW hotline 1800 PEP NOW (1800 737 669) open:

  • Mon: 9am – 4pm
  • Tues: 2pm – 4pm
  • Wed: 2pm – 4pm
  • Thurs: 9am – 4pm
  • Fri: 9am – 4pm
  • Weekends: 9am – 8pm
  • Public Holidays: Closed

For questions regarding HIV call the HIV Hotline on 9332 9700 or 1800 451 600.

For more info about PEP and to find locations to access PEP in your area, visit the website.

PEP should be your last resort

If you’ve used PEP several times it might be worthwhile considering HIV prevention options, such as condoms, PrEP and UVL. We get it, we’re all human and make mistakes. But the important thing is to stay safe and if we can avoid getting HIV we should do what we can to protect ourselves.

Whatever strategy you use, consider the options available and make the choices that are right for you.