The HIV prevention medication PrEP is the one you’ve been hearing about the most lately, but if you’ve had high-risk sex you mustn’t forget about PEP as a prevention tool.
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a month-long course of HIV treatment that can prevent a person becoming infected with HIV after a recent exposure. The sooner someone starts PEP the better, but it needs to be within 72 hours of exposure.
PEP is different to PrEP. PEP is taken after a possible exposure to HIV, whereas PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a drug taken daily over a sustained period to help prevent HIV infection before exposure.
PEP can be an effective HIV prevention tool after a high-risk event, such as condomless sex, sex where a condom breaks, and sharing injecting equipment.
It’s available from the Emergency Department of most public hospitals, sexual health clinics and some other clinics and doctors that specialise in gay men’s health and HIV.
But according to recent Queensland Gay Community Periodic Survey data, only 61% of men surveyed knew PEP was available.
The Australian Federation of Aids Organisations (AFAO) has started a new nationwide campaign “Get PEP” to raise awareness of the medication through ads and promotional materials.
For more information about PEP, including what it is, how it works, and where to access it, visit the Get PEP website at www.getpep.info.