Most of my friends have asked me for sexual advice. This is not because I am God’s gift to men and their sexual pleasure but because I work in the area of sexual health.

I get asked about STIs all the time, but the one topic I find the most important is PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

What is PEP? PEP is a month-long course of anti-HIV medication that helps prevent the virus from entering the body. The PEP medication is the same medication that people with HIV take to reduce its impact upon the body.

How does PEP work? It takes a few days for HIV to become established in the body following exposure. Basically PEP works to prevent the virus spreading through the body during these initial days.

When should I take PEP? PEP should be taken if you think you may have been exposed to HIV. Sharing needles, condom breakage or unprotected sex with a casual partner are reasons to take PEP.

It is important to note that PEP must be taken within 72 hours of the exposure incident. The longer you wait, the more chance there is that PEP won’t work.

What happens when I am taking PEP? While on PEP, most people report some side effects. The severity and types of side effects differ for each person. Common side effects can include headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Where do you get PEP? You can access PEP from a range of places. The best place to start is the PEP info line. They will be able to tell you the location closest to you.

When I go to access PEP what will I be asked? When you ask for PEP a registry nurse will need to ask you questions about what happened to make you think you’ve been exposed to HIV.

Be honest and accurate — they are there to help you, not to judge you, and the information will help them to assess the seriousness of the situation.

Now PEP up and spread the word!

info: Visit www.getpep.info or call
PEP Infoline on 1800 889 887.

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