Sometimes it is planned, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it goes to plan, sometimes it doesn’t. For those times when it doesn’t go to plan, call the PEP Line.
PEP is a treatment you can access if you have been potentially exposed to HIV. It should be started as soon as possible, and definitely within 72 hours (3 days) of the event.
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED, CALL THE PEP LINE 1300 767 161
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What is PEP?
Post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP is a prescribed course of antiretroviral drugs that is taken soon after an exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
These medicines help to reduce the risk of HIV becoming established in the body.
PEP is not a cure for HIV and is not a guarantee for
preventing HIV infection.
Safe sex and safe drug injecting practices are the most effective ways of protecting yourself and others from HIV.
When is PEP given?
You may need PEP if you have had risky contact with someone who has HIV, or who may have HIV. This risky contact may include:
- Having sex without condoms or other protection Having sex where a condom breaks
- Sharing injecting equipment
- Receiving a needle-stick injury
- Being exposed to blood or other bodily fluids.
Where Do I Get PEP?
The first thing you should do is call the PEP Line:
1300 767 161
If you are eligible, you can get PEP from:
Sexual health clinics at Fremantle and Royal Perth Hospitals
A few metropolitan GPs with a special interest in HIV Some hospital emergency departments in metropolitan and country WA.
See the contact numbers listed at the end of the pamphlet. Country callers should call 1300 767 161.
If you live in the Perth metropolitan area, you can go direct to one of the sexual health clinics at either Royal Perth Hospital or Fremantle Hospital during business
hours. Please call ahead to let them know you are coming - details are listed on the other side of this pamphlet. After hours or on public holidays or weekends call.
How Much Will PEP Cost Me?
Treatment costs will be covered if your situation meets the Department of Healthʼs guidelines for the use of PEP.
You may have to pay a small handling fee for the prescription.
How do I know if I need PEP?
Decisions about whether you should take PEP must be made with a trained doctor. They will assess your risk of HIV infection based on the information you provide,
and can arrange PEP if it is required. When discussing whether PEP is appropriate, you should provide details that relate to your HIV exposure such as:
What type of exposure occurred (sexual, injecting, or other) For sexual exposure, what type of sex occurred (vaginal, oral, anal)
Whether you know anything about the HIV status of the person or people involved
How much time has passed since the event.
You can get information about PEP, and advice regarding whether you are at risk by calling the 24-hour PEP Line on 1300 767 161.
When Should I Take PEP?
PEP should be started as soon as possible after a potential exposure to HIV, and definitely within 72 hours (3 days) of the event.
The sooner you start PEP, the better the chance of it working.
Even after 72 hours you should still contact your doctor or one of the contacts listed at the end of the pamphlet to discuss your options.
It is important to keep in mind that PEP is considered an emergency measure, and should not be used instead of condoms or sterile injecting equipment.
What Is Involved In Taking PEP?
Initially you will have some blood tests to find out whether you have HIV or any other infection. Your doctor will then discuss with you how to take the course of PEP
PEP involves taking two antiretroviral drugs once a day for four weeks (28 days). It is very important that these drugs are taken on time and without missing doses.
Some of the drugs used for PEP are the same ones that are taken by people living with HIV. These medications can cause a range of side effects which may include diarrhoea, nausea, headaches, rashes, tiredness, and loss of appetite. These potential side effects can vary depending on the individual, which is why such drugs should only be taken under medical supervision. If you are concerned about possible side effects and how to manage them, you should discuss this with your doctor.
Whilst taking PEP, and also afterwards, you will need to visit your doctor or a sexual health clinic to check whether PEP has been effective.
Does PEP prevent HIV infection?
There is sufficient evidence to suggest that PEP can reduce the likelihood of getting HIV after an exposure. However, the effectiveness of PEP is dependent on a number of different factors, and this means that PEP is not 100 percent effective.
If you decide to take PEP, you should remember that:
- PEP can reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV PEP is not guaranteed to prevent HIV infection
- PEP will not protect you against another exposure to HIV in the future
- PEP is not a cure for HIV.
To protect yourself from HIV it is important to practice safe sex and also not to share injecting equipment.