What is PEP?

PEP stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis.  It is a 4-week course of pills you can take if you have been at serious risk of getting HIV. The medication can stop you becoming infected with HIV even after it has entered your body but it isn’t a guarantee.

You can get PEP at:

• Sexual Health Clinics (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

• Accident & Emergency departments in Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary (Evenings & Weekends)

See the Services section for contacts details.

How soon after sex do I take PEP?

PEP has the best chance of working within 24 hours but can be given up to 72 hours (3 days) from when you think you have been at risk of getting HIV. However, you shouldn’t wait for 72 hours before contacting the clinic as the longer you wait the less effective PEP is likely to be.

Am I sure to get PEP?

The doctor will decide if you should have PEP depending on what kind of sex you had.  The doctor will also want to ask you questions about who you had sex with; if they are known to have HIV or not and where they come from.  It would be very helpful if the person you had sex with could be seen too and have an HIV test.  This would help to clarify if you really need PEP or not.  We know this can be difficult though.

PEP is usually only recommended after anal sex without a condom or if a condom bursts but may be prescribed in other situations too.  You can contact organisations like THT for advice if you are not sure whether the risk was big enough to make PEP worth thinking about but if you are still unsure you should just come to the clinic to get speak to someone whose job it is to help you in these situations.

Even if you don’t get PEP for any reason you may still need to be tested for other infections.

Does PEP have any side effects?

As with most medicines, PEP has side effects and can cause:

• Headaches

• Diarrhoea (common)

• Feeling sick and vomiting (common)

• Kidney and liver problems (uncommon)

Your doctor will discuss these with you prior to prescribing PEP. You may also need to have some blood tests taken during the PEP course to monitor its effects on the body.