PEP is recommended for people who may have been recently exposed to HIV (e.g. through needle stick or condomless sexual exposure).
What is HIV PEP?
HIV PEP is short for HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis. It is a four week course of medication that helps prevent HIV.
PEP is recommended for people who may have been recently exposed to HIV (e.g. through needle stick or condomless sexual exposure). The medications used in PEP are called antiretroviral drugs and are the same drugs used to treat HIV infection
How does it work?
In most cases, PEP stops HIV from establishing itself in the body and will prevent HIV infection. To be effective, the treatment needs to be started as soon as possible within the first 72 hours after the exposure and the treatment needs to be taken correctly every day over 28 days.
PEP is not 100 per cent effective in preventing HIV infections. PEP is more effective the sooner it is started after a possible HIV exposure (within 72 hours) and if the entire 28 days of medications are taken as directed.
Who can use PEP?
Anyone who does not have HIV and believes they may have been exposed to HIV within the previous 72 hours should consider taking PEP. A health care provider will complete an assessment to determine if the risk of HIV infection is high enough to warrant starting a person on PEP. PEP is also considered for use in work settings (e.g. hospitals or health clinics) when a health care provider experiences a needle stick injury.
How can a person access PEP?
In B.C., PEP is free and available at all hospital emergency departments and in some specialized sexual health clinics. People will receive a PEP starter kit, which consists the first five days of the 28 days of medication. After starting the medication, follow up with a physician is required within three to five days to obtain blood tests and a prescription for the remaining 23 days of medication.
For detailed information on HIV PEP see: