SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is an anti-viral medication to prevent HIV infection if you suspect you may have been exposed to the virus.
- PEP must be started within 72 hours of an exposure to HIV and be taken correctly over a 28-day treatment period to be effective.
- Call the Victorian HIV Prevention Service (Tel. 1800 889 887) for guidance and information about where to find your closest PEP provider.
All about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
When to take PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis):
- must be started within 72 hours of HIV exposure
- be taken correctly as prescribed over a 28-day treatment period
- dosage is usually 1 tablet taken daily (in some circumstances, a combination of 2 or 3 tablets taken daily).
What PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is used for
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is taken after a known or suspected exposure to HIV to prevent HIV infection.
Examples of known or suspected exposure to HIV may include:
- -less sex with a person whose HIV status you don’t know or who has HIV and is not on treatment.
- Where a condom has broken or failed during sex.
- Sharing needles or other injecting equipment.
If exposure to HIV is through a person with HIV who has an undetectable viral load, PEP is not recommended, as there is no risk of transmission.
Where to get PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
Your PEP provider will ask you a series of questions to determine your risk and whether PEP is appropriate.
PEP is available from:
- the emergency department of most public hospitals
- sexual health clinics
- some general practice clinics which specialise in sexual health.
If the exposure happens ‘after hours’, emergency departments are often the best place to go to start PEP as soon as possible.
PEP is widely available in Victoria and further information can be found at:
- provides a comprehensive list of places where you can get PEP throughout Victoria and the rest of Australia.
- – information and advice for people seeking PEP.
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) possible side effects
PEP can cause severe side effects in some people. These include:
Important things to know about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
Important things to remember about PEP:
- Must be started within 72 hours of potential exposure.
- Must be taken every day for 28 days to work.
- It does not protect against other – such as , and .
- Is not a morning-after pill (known as ) that makes it easy and safe to have sex without a condom.
Get yourself tested for STIs, and treated if necessary, by your local GP (doctor).
Other HIV prevention options
There are many easy and effective ways to prevent HIV. Other than PEP, HIV transmission can also be prevented by:
- (including ) with water or silicone-based lubricant during anal or vaginal sex.
- Using clean, sterile injecting equipment.
- – for people at risk of HIV transmission.
- Achieving and maintaining “undetectable” HIV viral loads (U=U) if you have HIV by taking HIV antiretroviral treatment (ART) as prescribed.
Depending on your risk factors and lifestyle, you may be more suited to other HIV prevention methods. It is important to find the right prevention method (or combination of methods) that works for you and your sexual partners.
If you have used PEP more than once, you may wish to talk to your GP about starting pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP for HIV prevention.
PrEP is a pill taken once a day and is 99% effective at preventing HIV transmission if taken consistently as prescribed.
Where to get help
- Your local community health service
- . To book an appointment call SHV Melbourne CBD Clinic: or call SHV Box Hill Clinic: or (free call): . These services are youth friendly.
- Tel. or or TTY (for the hearing impaired)
- If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV. Tel.
- Tel. or (for country callers)
- , Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health Tel.
- (formerly Victorian AIDS Council) Tel. or
- Tel. Or
- , Wodonga Tel. or
- (throughout Victoria)