Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the practice of starting a month-long course of anti-HIV medications within 72 hours of possible exposure to the virus to prevent permanent infection. The medication keeps HIV from making copies of itself and spreading through your body.
To be effective, PEP needs to be started as soon as possible, preferably within 36 hours and no later than 72 hours after exposure to HIV. PEP consists of two to three antiretroviral medications that are prescribed by a medical provider. The provider will determine what treatment is right for you based on how you were exposed to HIV.
PEP is safe but may cause side effects like nausea in some people. These side effects can be treated and are not life threatening. PEP is not 100% effective; it does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not become infected with HIV.
Learn more about PEP and how the Los Angeles LGBT Center can help you get it at freetesting.org.