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Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after being exposed to a single high-risk event with the possibility of contracting HIV. It can stop HIV from making copies of itself in the bloodstream and may reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive. This group of medications must be started within three days of exposure and are taken for 28 days straight. While PEP reduces chances of contracting HIV, it is not always effective, and does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not also contract HIV (CATIE). Additionally, the clinic or hospital who provides the PEP will generally want to do follow-up testing at 4 weeks, 3-6 months and 1 year. Advocates should be aware of common side effects that come with taking pre and post-exposure prophylaxis. While it affects everybody differently, advocates should be knowledgeable about the risks so that they can help survivors safety plan for medication adherence.

PrEP is an HIV risk reduction tool for HIV negative people at who are at high risk of contracting HIV. The medication used is called Truvada, and it can drastically reduce (up to 92%) the transmission of HIV when used with other safer sex practices like condoms, or with clean needles in the case of people who inject drugs. PrEP is very effective when taken consistently, and is typically prescribed to people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men (MSM), and women who are HIV negative but have HIV positive male partners. People who use PrEP must commit to frequent medical check-ups as often as every three months, and must take medicine exactly as prescribed.