Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, is another name for emergency HIV treatment. PEP is not a cure for HIV, it is a form of HIV prevention. It is a short course of antiretroviral drugs that stops exposure to HIV from becoming a life-long infection.

PEP drugs given at this time may help the body’s immune system to stop the virus from replicating (multiplying) in the infected cells of the body. The cells originally infected would then die naturally within a short period of time without producing more copies of HIV.

It means taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV, but the sooner you start PEP, the better. PEP is effective in preventing HIV when administered correctly, but not 100%.

PEP normally consists of three anti-HIV drugs, from two of the different classes. The most recent UK guidelines recommend using Truvada (a fixed-dose combination tablet combining emtricitabine and tenofovir) from the NRTI class, and raltegravir (Isentress) from the integrase inhibitor class.

It is very important to take your doses on time. When PEP fails to destroy HIV, it is often because of missed doses. PEP has side effects, which can vary from person to person. The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and fatigue.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) PrEP is a daily pill for HIV-negative people that can help prevent HIV infection before exposure to the virus. PEP is an emergency medication for HIV-negative people that can help prevent infection after exposure to HIV.