PEP is short for post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is different from PrEP. PEP is a sort of morning-after pill for HIV and must be taken within 72 hours of possible HIV exposure. If someone who is HIV negative and not already taking PrEP experiences sexual violence or has sex without a condom with someone who might be living with HIV, they should reach out to a doctor or local AIDS Service Organization about starting PEP. PEP is a 28-day prescription of powerful anti-HIV medications and should only be taken when necessary.
What is PEP?Open
What is PEP?
PEP stands for:
Post = after
Exposure = coming into contact with HIV
Prophylaxis = treatment to prevent an infection
PEP is for EMERGENCY HIV prevention. PEP is 28 days of anti-retroviral therapy. In order to prevent HIV with PEP, you MUST start the medication no more than 72 hours after exposure to HIV. Medication for PEP must be taken at the same time every day for 28 days.
When is PEP recommended?Open
When is PEP recommended?
If you or someone you know has had either:
- Unprotected vaginal/anal sex with someone who is HIV positive
- Exposure to non-sterile injection equipment
HIV positive people with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit HIV. Therefore, if you have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive but undetectable, you do not need to take PEP.
How can I get PEP?Open
How can I get PEP?
If you need PEP in Ohio, you should go to an Urgent Care or Emergency Room immediately. A doctor will assess your risk before prescribing PEP.
What are the side effects of PEP?Open
What are the side effects of PEP?
PEP is strong HIV medication. During the first few days of taking PEP, many people experience nausea (upset stomach), feeling tired, and diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms, communicate with your doctor before you decide to stop taking PEP. You MUST take the full 28 days of medication to prevent HIV. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you start PEP immediately after HIV exposure to prevent the transmission of HIV to your baby. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding during your ER visit.
How can I pay for PEP?Open
How can I pay for PEP?
If you are prescribed PEP but have not been sexually assaulted, there are many assistance programs available that can help cover the cost.
Patient assistance programs (PAPs), also called medication assistance programs (MAPs), can help you pay for PEP if you do not have insurance or if your insurance plan doesn’t cover the medication.
If you have health insurance the covers PEP, co-pay assistance programs (CAPs) can help you pay for the out-of-pocket costs of the medication.
Several PEP drug manufacturers offer both PAPs and CAPs. The drug(s) your doctor chooses to prescribe as PEP will determine which assistance program you should use. Talk with your doctor or local health clinic for advice on how to get enrolled in these programs.
To learn more about each manufacturer’s assistance program, including the eligibility requirements and application process, you can use helpful guides provided by NASTAD and the Fair Pricing Coalition.
PEP for Survivors of Sexual AssaultOpen
PEP for Survivors of Sexual Assault
If you live in Ohio, PEP is offered free of charge as a part of each hospital’s sexual assault kit. We advise visiting the nearest Emergency Room as soon as possible (within 72 hours after the assault). You may need to ask the doctor directly for PEP for HIV.