If you think you need Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), then you need to act quickly, ideally as soon as possible after possible infection with HIV. If you are unsure, call us on 020 7637 1600 and speak to one of our lovely receptionists who will help you.
You can obtain PEP through your local NHS GUM Clinic or through your local Accident and Emergency Department. Follow this link for a list of places where you can get PEP.
We can provide you with PEP at Freedomhealth but it is an expensive course of medication and we always try and steer people in the UK into the NHS for assessment and treatment. We can provide you with short, 5 day starter packs of the usual PEP medications so that you have time to calm down and think about things if you are having difficulty getting into your own local clinic.
If you do see us for PEP we will ask you to have an HIV test immediately, to make sure you have not been infected with HIV before.
PEP – Post Exposure Prophylaxis after HIV Exposure
Post Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposure refers to the use of anti-retroviral drugs to try to prevent HIV infection in people who have been very recently exposed or potentially exposed.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV published Guidelines for the use of PEP in 2006 after exposure to possible infection with HIV sexually. The aim was to try to reduce the number of new infections after high-risk exposures.
The evidence reviewed by the Clinical Effectiveness Group drawing up the Guidelines identified what they called a window of opportunity to prevent HIV taking hold once a person had been exposed to it. The evidence they looked at seemed to show that there was a period of 48-72 hours prior to the HIV virus beginning to replicate in a person’s cells after contamination.
The evidence for the effectiveness of PEP comes from:-
- Animal studies where primates were inoculated with retroviruses and then given PEP. The studies found that as the time interval from infection to treatment increased, the effectiveness of the treatment decreased; supporting the idea that PEP should be started urgently after a suspicious, high risk event.
- In a Brazilian study, men who have sex with other men were randomised into two groups where one group received starter packs of PEP to be used immediately in the event of an accident that put them at risk and the other group not. The group who had and took the PEP had significantly less infection with HIV than the group which didn’t.
- In a further Brazilian study PEP was provided to patients who presented to a doctor after sexual assault within a 72 hour period. There were no seroconversions in the treated group but there were seroconversions in the untreated group who presented after the 72 hours.
The key is to regard unprotected sex with someone whose status you do not know as a reason for concern.
The chances of:-
- Meeting a female with HIV in the UK is 0.2%
- Meeting a heterosexual male with HIV in the UK is 0.5%
- Meeting a gay man in London, Brighton or Manchester with HIV is high at 20%
But, meeting and having sex with an HIV positive person does not necessarily put you at risk. If you have used a condom for penetrative sex, vaginal or anal, then your chances of picking up HIV are near if not zero. If you haven’t used a condom or the condom breaks or comes off and you know the person you are having sex with is HIV positive then you should consider using PEP.
You can get PEP from the centres listed here.
We can supply you with PEP but it is an expensive course of treatment. We can provide you with short starter packs (and full courses if that’s what you would like) if necessary.