|PEP Information for Patients
What is PEP?
PEP: The Basics
Know Your Risk. PEP
can protect you if you had anal or vaginal sex
without a condom with someone who has, or might
have, HIV. PEP can also prevent HIV if you were
exposed while injecting drugs.
best if started right away. Go to an emergency room
or clinic as soon as possible and ask about PEP. You
should begin PEP no more than 72 hours after
Take PEP for 28 Days. PEP
is taken in pill form for 28 days. You need to take
PEP each day to keep enough medicine in your body to
stop HIV. If you want to stop taking PEP, talk to
your doctor first.
Know about Common Side
can have mild side effects, like stomach pain and
Be Ready to Follow-Up. After
you finish taking PEP, your doctor will give you an
HIV test to make sure PEP worked.
Find Out about Paying
for PEP. Many
insurance plans including Medi-Cal cover PEP. Assistance
may be available if you are uninsured.
you often worry about exposure to HIV, ask your
doctor about PrEP
– a daily pill that helps prevent HIV.
How does PEP stop HIV?
PEP contains some of the same
medicines that people with HIV take to stay healthy.
If you are exposed to HIV, it takes a few days for
an HIV infection to take hold in your body. As soon
as you start PEP, these medicines begin to stop the
virus from multiplying. As you continue taking PEP
for the full 28–days, cells with HIV die and the
virus stops spreading to the rest of your body.
How do I know if I need PEP?
If you are HIV-negative, PEP can
protect you if you had anal or vaginal sex without a
condom (or your condom broke) with someone who has
HIV or may have HIV. PEP can stop HIV if you were
the victim of sexual assault. PEP can also stop HIV
if you were exposed while injecting drugs.
You may be at higher risk of HIV infection if you
were the receptive (or “bottom”) partner in anal or
vaginal sex (if you had a partner’s penis in your
anus or vagina). Receptive partners have a greater
chance of exposure to HIV through semen or blood.
PEP is NOT usually recommended after sex that has a
lower risk of spreading HIV, like oral sex. If you
are unsure whether you are at risk of HIV infection,
ask a doctor.
PEP is only meant to be used
for a one-time exposure to HIV. If you often worry
about being exposed to HIV, ask your doctor about PrEP
– Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis –
a daily pill that helps prevent HIV.
How do I take PEP?
PEP is prescribed by a doctor or nurse. You should
take PEP exactly as prescribed.
You should begin PEP no more than 72 hours after
When you start PEP, you may be given a “starter
pack” with a few days’ supply of pills. This gives
you time to fill a prescription for the rest of the
PEP is much more effective at stopping HIV if you
take all the pills for the full 28 days. It is very
important never to skip a dose. It is best to take
your pills at the same time every day.
PEP involves several steps:
Before you start PEP,
you will be tested for HIV. Your healthcare
provider will also check your kidney and liver
function and your overall health.
During a follow-up
appointment or phone call,
your provider will ask you about side effects
and HIV risk, and make sure you are taking all
the pills in PEP.
When you finish PEP,
you will be tested again to make sure you have
not become infected with HIV.
After you finish PEP, stay
Use condoms, and ask your doctor about PrEP.
If you inject drugs, always use a clean syringe.
Is PEP safe? What are the side effects?
PEP can cause mild side effects, including upset
stomach and headaches, especially at the beginning
If side effects are bothering you, tell your medical
provider right away. There may be ways to help you
feel better. Do not stop taking PEP before talking
to your provider.
How well does PEP work?
PEP is not
100% effective. But if you take PEP immediately
after an exposure and for the full 28 days, it often
prevents HIV infection. In one
study of healthcare
workers who were accidentally exposed to HIV, PEP
reduced the rate of infection by 80%.
If I take PEP, do I still have to use condoms?
How do I pay for PEP?
- In LA
County, PEP is covered by Medi-Cal and many private
health insurance and prescription plans.
What if I don’t have insurance?
What is a
High-risk HIV Exposure?
Where Can I Get PEP in Los Angeles County?
Talk to your regular doctor or
nurse or visit one of the many clinics
with experience providing PEP in
For more information call the LA
County PEP warmline - (213) 351-7699
The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian
Center in Hollywood - (323) 860-5855 (Option 4)
Report an HIV or STD Case