Post Exposure Prophylaxis

What is PEP?

PEP is short for post-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a medication that can prevent you from getting HIV after you have potentially been exposed to the virus through sex (or injecting).

You can think of PEP as a kind of ‘morning after pill’, but it’s a course of tablets that you take for 4 weeks after sex.

PEP works the same way as PrEP and HIV medicines: by stopping HIV from making copies of itself, so it can’t set up in your body.

PEP must be started within 72 hours after sex,
but it is most effective if you start it sooner, ideally within 24 hours.

The doctor’s assessment is important to determine whether PEP is needed. Some activities, such as oral sex or any sex with a condom, are very low risk for HIV, so you might not need to take it.

PEP can have side effects for some people, like a headache or an upset stomach for a few days. Your doctor can talk to you about this and how to manage it if it happens.

QPP and RAPID don’t have doctors to prescribe PEP, but we can answer your questions about it and help you get in touch with a clinic if you want to consider taking it.  Remember though, it needs to be started within 72 hours after sex.

If you have Medicare, PEP is available at a low cost through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). If you don’t have Medicare, you may be able to access it through insurance or another way – you can ask your doctor.


A tablet that you can take to reliably prevent HIV. Lots of people, especially gay and bisexual men, take PrEP to prevent HIV.

Treatment As Prevention

TasP refers to using HIV medication to dramatically reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to others.

How Is HIV Transmitted

HIV can be shared in some body fluids, like blood and semen, but not in fluids like saliva or sweat.

HIV Prevention

As well as condom use, over the last decade, HIV treatment has come a long way and now plays a vital role in prevention.

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