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PEP

If you are worried that you might have been exposed to HIV then post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a great option to consider. PEP is a four week course of anti-HIV drugs that may prevent HIV transmission. You’ll have to be quick though as PEP needs to be taken within 72 hours of a potential exposure to HIV.

PEP is most effective when started within 24 hours of HIV exposure.

PEP works by stopping HIV from replicating and establishing itself through the body. It works in most cases but is not guaranteed to work and side-effects can include nausea and headaches, though these usually pass after a short time.

The best way to access PEP is to head to your nearest hospital emergency department or a sexual health clinic.

You can find out where you can get it and more information at Get PEP.

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Asking for something like PEP can be awkward but it’s important to remember that taking PEP is about taking responsibility for your own health and nothing to feel ashamed about.

Some hospital staff may not know what you are talking about when you ask for PEP. If this happens you can get in touch with a state-based PEP info line (in those states that have one) and that service can speak with the hospital staff to sort it out for you.

You can also insist on seeing someone who does know about PEP, such as the on-call infectious diseases clinician.

Sometimes staff members might get caught up on the mechanics of how and why you have sex, particularly when talking about PEP to a trans guy. A good way to clarify with staff is to ask:

“Is this question directly related to your assessment about whether PEP is a good treatment option for me?”

And remember: you are not required to disclose to anyone that you are trans.