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PEP and PrEP


PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is a 4-week course of anti-HIV medication that is shown to be effective in preventing HIV infection if started within 72 hours of exposure.

The key to PEP is accessing it as soon as possible after you think you may have been exposed to HIV. PEP is most effective within up to 24 hours of exposure and unlikely to work if not taken within 72 hours (three days) of the suspected exposure to HIV.

If you believe you have been exposed to HIV, you can be assessed for PEP from your local sexual health clinic or hospital emergency department.

For more information, go to getpep.info  or call the NSW PEP Hotline 1800 737 669.

The above information is adapted from the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website, afao.org.au


PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication taken daily by HIV-negative people to protect them from acquiring HIV.

How does PrEP work?

When the PrEP drug is sufficiently present in the bloodstream and vaginal and/or rectal tissues when someone is exposed to HIV, the virus is unable to establish itself and pass on to that person.

You will be protected after taking PrEP every day for 7 days. If you are a woman, you will need to take it every day for 20 days before peak drug concentrations happen in the vagina.
Your doctor can give you more information.

Who should take PrEP?

PrEP should be considered if you plan to have a baby with an HIV positive partner.

PrEP is recommended for people who are at high risk of getting HIV.

You are at high risk if you:

  • are having sex with a HIV-positive partner, and your partner does not have an undetectable HIV viral load
  • are a man having anal sex with other men of unknown HIV status and do not always use a condom
How can I get PrEP?

To get PrEP you need to see a doctor to find out if PrEP is right for you. The doctor will ask you questions about your sex life to see if you are at high risk of getting HIV. The doctor will keep your personal information private and confidential.

If you are at high risk, the doctor will do:

  • A HIV test. If this shows that you already have HIV, you should not take PrEP.
  • A hepatitis B test. If you have chronic hepatitis B you may need to see another specialist doctor before you know if you can take PrEP.
  • Kidney tests (blood tests), as these can be affected by the PrEP medication.
  • Tests for other infections you can get from having sex.

If PrEP is right for you, the doctor will give you a prescription and explain the different ways that you can get PrEP.

Are there any long - term side effects?

Most people who take PrEP do not have any serious problems.

However, taking PrEP for a long time can affect your kidneys, so it’s important that these are checked. Your doctor will do a blood test every three months while you are taking PrEP to check this.

More information on PrEP

The NSW Sexual Health Info Link 1800 451 624 is a phone service that can:
• Give you more information about PrEP
• Help you understand if PrEP is right for you
• Help you find a doctor who is experienced in HIV and who knows about PrEP