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If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, PEP can help.

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is medication you can take if you’ve been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours (3 days) to lower your chances of getting the virus. You take PEP once a day for 28 days. The medicines used in PEP, called antiretroviral medications, work by stopping HIV from spreading through your body.

Who can take PEP?

PEP is for people who are HIV negative who may have been exposed to HIV in the last three days. PEP is most effective the sooner you start the medication — up to 72 hours after you were exposed to HIV — and every hour matters. 

PEP might be right for you if:

  • You had sex with someone who has or may have HIV and didn’t use a condom, or the condom broke

  • You were sexually assaulted

  • You shared needles or works (like cotton, cookers, or water) with someone who has or may have HIV

If you’re concerned that you have been exposed to HIV, call 1.800.230.PLAN (7526) or walk into a Planned Parenthood health center immediately. If PEP is not immediately available to you at your local Planned Parenthood, we may refer you to an emergency room.

 

Things you should know before taking PEP

  • PEP is not a one-time pill. It requires you to take many pills over many weeks. If your provider gives you PEP, you’ll need to take the medication every day for 28 days (4 weeks). It’s important that you take every pill as directed and don’t skip doses, otherwise PEP may not work as well.

  • PEP isn’t 100% effective, and it won't prevent future HIV infections like PrEP can. It’s important to keep protecting yourself and others from HIV while you’re on PEP by using condoms and not sharing injection drugs or works. 

  • PEP can have side effects, like stomach aches and fatigue, but these aren’t dangerous. If you develop symptoms like a fever or rash while using PEP, or within a month after finishing PEP, call your provider at Planned Parenthood. These may be signs of the beginning stages of HIV.

  • You will need to come back to Planned Parenthood for follow-up testing after you finish PEP. You’ll get another HIV test 4-6 weeks after you were first exposed to HIV, and then another test 3 months later. Depending on your situation, we may recommend another HIV test 6 months later.