PEP is short for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. It's a course of medication you take after being exposed to HIV (within 72 hours) to reduce the risk of becoming HIV-positive. A course of PEP lasts 28 days and includes Truvada (a medication used for PrEP, and also for treating HIV) along with another anti-HIV drug.
How does PEP work?
PEP prevents HIV from spreading in your system by stopping it from replicating itself in your bloodstream. Taking PEP daily for the entire 28 days helps ensure the medication is effective at preventing HIV infection.
How do I get PEP?
To get PEP, you should go to an emergency room or urgent care centre within 72 hours of exposure, ideally as soon as possible. The clinician there will then make an assessment of your HIV risk, and will prescribe PEP if needed.
For patients in Ontario only, Freddie can provide you with PEP-In-Pocket (PIP). This is a prescription for PEP that you keep in case of a future HIV exposure, which means you can go directly to a pharmacy and saves time.
If you are taking PrEP - whether daily PrEP or PrEP-On-Demand - you do not need PEP. This is because PrEP protects you from any potential HIV exposure. You also do not need PEP if your partner has HIV and is undetectable. This is because when someone is undetectable they cannot pass on HIV through sex.