PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It is when you take antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to
prevent becoming infected. It must be taken daily for 28 days.
PEP must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible
exposure to HIV, but the sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts.
Is PEP right for me?
- think you may have been exposed to HIV
during sex (for example, if the condom broke),
- shared needles and works to prepare
drugs (for example, cotton, cookers, water), or
- were sexually assaulted,
talk to your
health care provider or an emergency room doctor about PEP right away.
PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be
started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. It is not a
substitute for regular use of other proven HIV prevention methods, such
as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which
means taking HIV medicines daily to lower your chance of getting infected;
using condoms the right way every time you have sex; and using only your own
new, sterile needles and works every time you inject.
PEP is effective, but not 100%, so you should continue to use
condoms with sex partners and safe injection practices while taking PEP. These
strategies can protect you from being exposed to HIV again and reduce the
chances of transmitting HIV to others if you do become infected while you’re on
Learn more about how to protect yourself and get information
tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s HIV Risk
Reduction Tool (BETA).