Antiretroviral drugs not only helps people living with HIV. It also plays a role in preventing transmission of the virus.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP): PEP involves taking a short course of ARV drugs, usually for a month, after a high-risk exposure. To be most effective, PEP should be started immediately after possible exposure, waiting no more than 72 hours.

If you suspect a high-risk exposure to HIV—semen leaking out of a condom during intercourse with an HIV-positive insertive partner; receptive anal sex without a condom with a partner who is either HIV positive or whose status you do not know or you have shared drug-injection works with someone who is either HIV positive or whose status you do not know—contact your health care provider or local hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

Click here for the POZ HIV Prevention Drug Chart for info on the available options for PEP.

Last Reviewed: January 5, 2023