You could hardly miss the PrEP news late last year, as media of all kinds rushed to announce the “pill that can prevent HIV.” But another pharmaceutical prevention technique has had trouble even making its name among those who need it most. Have you heard of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)?
First given to medical workers in hospitals after accidental exposures (through a needlestick, say), PEP consists of an HIV regimen taken for 28 days, beginning within 72 hours—preferably less—of possible exposure to the virus. In studies of workplace exposure, PEP has charted as much as an 80 percent success rate.
People living with or at risk of HIV should know about PEP, yet the information is hard to find. In 2010, AIDS advocates and providers created at least two web sites—PEPnow.org and PEP411.com. Both offer PEP info, including where to get it. Like PrEP, PEP has adherence challenges, side effects and costs. But only for 28 days.