updated 1 month ago in HIV Prevention

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It’s important to have a strategy to avoid STIs and help stop the spread of HIV.

And here’s the good news: there are options to suit you.

You can use different options in different circumstances, or even use a combination of options.

Choose the strategy that best suits your lifestyle, the sex you enjoy and your HIV status.

Your best prevention strategy against getting HIV is the one you can use consistently and correctly.

What is PEP?

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a 28-day course of medication you can take to stop you from getting HIV if you think you’ve been exposed.

This might be because a condom broke, came off, or wasn’t used, and you’ve had sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know, or someone who is HIV-positive and not undetectable.

How does PEP work?

PEP is a combination of anti-HIV medications. It works by preventing HIV from establishing an infection in the first few days after the virus enters the body.

To have a chance of being effective, PEP should be started within 72 hours of exposure, and ideally as soon as possible. The faster you start PEP, the more likely it is to succeed.

What sort of protection does PEP provide?

PEP is an emergency last resort against HIV if you’ve been exposed. Its effectiveness may vary depending on how recently you were exposed to HIV. The sooner you start PEP, the better chance it has to keep you HIV-negative.

PEP does not protect against other STIs.

How do I use PEP?

PEP is a course of daily pills you take over 28 days.

Once you finish your course of PEP, it is important to get an HIV test. You should get an HIV test at four to six weeks after you first started PEP and again three months after starting PEP. This is because it can take up to three months for HIV to show up on a test.

PEP is an emergency measure and isn’t intended as a strategy to use regularly. If you don’t always use condoms, talk to your doctor about using PrEP.

How do I get PEP?

You can get PEP at hospital emergency departments, sexual health services or with some doctors.

To find out where you can get PEP near you, click on your state or territory: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA

What do I need to know about using PEP?

If you do need to use PEP, there are a few things to remember:

  • It’s OK to ask for PEP if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV.
  • Get PEP as soon as possible. PEP should be started within 72 hours of exposure to have a chance of working properly.
  • Always finish the full 28-day course of PEP.

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