PrEP and PEP are similar in that they are both prophylactic treatment for people who are at high risk for HIV transmission but are currently negative for HIV:
Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus that infect humans. Over time, they cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is characterized by failure of the immune system allowing for infections and cancers. Transmission occurs through bodily fluid contact, such as during sexual intercourse or through shared needles. HIV can be contracted through contact with blood, breastmilk, or rectal, vaginal, or seminal fluids.
PrEP is a treatment plan to prevent HIV before a person is exposed. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is medicine taken to prevent getting HIV. PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV when taken as prescribed. PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%; and reduces the risk of getting HIV from injection drug use by at least 74%.
A person must be first tested for HIV and have a current undetectable load. PrEP can also only be given to a person who has not knowingly come into contact with possible HIV transmission. Some scenarios include:
PEP is a treatment plan for after a person is exposed. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a short course of HIV medicines taken very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body. You must start it within 72 hours (3 days) after a possible exposure to HIV, or it won't work.
PEP is given to a person after possible transmission, while their viral load is still undetectable. Some scenarios of when PEP is appropriate include:
If you are prescribed PEP, you will need to take the HIV medicines daily for 28 days. You will be scheduled for followup visists while taking PEP and after you finish taking it for HIV testing and other tests.
PEP should be used only in emergency situations. It is not intended to replace HIV prevention practices. If you feel that you might exposed to HIV frequently, then talk to us about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).