What is PEP.?

By Adam Bukenya updated at 1429 EAT on Tuesday 12 April 2022.

A teenager taking Pep after exposure Courtesy photo

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a short course of HIV medicines taken very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body.

PEP should be used only in emergency situations. It is not meant for regular use.

What is PEP for?

PEP may be right for you if you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours:

  1. Through sexual assault
  2. Through shared needles, syringes, or other equipment used to inject drugs, or
  3. During Sex (eg, you had a condom break)

Is PEP Effective?

PEP is effective in preventing HIV infection when it’s taken correctly, but it’s not 100% effective. The sooner you start PEP after a possible HIV exposure, the better.

While taking PEP, it’s important to use other HIV prevention methods, such as using condoms.

Does PEP Cause Side Effects?

PEP is safe, but the HIV medicines used for PEP may cause side effects like nausea in some people. In almost all cases, these side effects can be treated and aren’t life-threatening.

How Long Should One Take PEP?

If you are prescribed PEP, you will need to take the HIV medicines every day for 28 days.

You will also need to return to your health care provider at certain times while taking PEP and after you finish taking it for HIV testing and other tests.

If you are taking PEP, talk to your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

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