Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (usually called PEP) is a course of ARVs (antiretroviral tablets used to treat HIV) given to someone who is HIV negative after he has had a high risk event of getting HIV. This could be a condom breaking during anal sex, especially if he was the bottom (receptive partner). PEP reduces his risk of becoming infected.
PEP must be started as soon as possible after the risky sex, and not later than 72 hours. Men who have been raped are likely to need PEP unless they are already HIV positive. The pills must be taken correctly, at the same time every day for one month.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- You can get PEP if you are HIV negative and a condom slipped off or broke during anal sex, or you had sex without a condom. Remember that HIV is spread through the semen (cum) or blood of someone who is HIV positive. Your risk is greater if your partner has cum inside your anus, or if your partner was bleeding during sex.
- The bottom partner during anal sex is at a higher risk of getting HIV than the top because of the high risk of infection when you get semen in your anus.
- Only a doctor or qualified nursing sister can start you on PEP. Never try taking someone else’s ARV medication.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- If you think you are HIV negative and may have been infected, make contact with your healthcare provider as soon as possible, always within 72 hours after the risk took place. The sooner you start PEP the better it works. The healthcare provider will check to see whether you are already HIV positive – PEP can only be used by negative people to prevent infection.
- If you are negative they will talk about the risk you had and tell you more about PEP. They will tell you how to use it correctly and about potential side effects. They will remind you to have safer sex with your partners because you may have been infected. After they have given you the PEP they will remind you to come to the clinic after one month, and again after three months, to make sure that the PEP worked and that you are still HIV negative.
- If you know of a friend who may need PEP share this information with him.