Happy Pride!Everyone deserves the safety and peace of mind to be as sexually spontaneous as they want to be. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the resources they need to be safe, and 'unsafe' sex' -- sex without a condom, sex without disclosing HIV status -- sometimes just happens. There is a resource for people who believe they've been exposed to HIV, even if they're not on a daily regimen of PrEP: PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) pills are a course of medication that can be taken after exposure to HIV to prevent HIV infection in those who are HIV-negative. PEP is not 100% effective, but it is an essential tool for people who believe they've been at risk for HIV transmission, whether through unprotected sex with someone HIV-positive or sharing needles.

At PrEP2Me, we believe that everyone deserves access to the resources they need to stay safe and protected from HIV. We provide patients with PrEP prescriptions online for preventing HIV, but we're also a direct line to be prescribed PEP for patients in Pennsylvania and Ohio. If you believe you've been exposed to HIV, please don't hesitate to contact us. We can provide you with the resources and support you need to get started taking PEP right away.

Here's what every patient should know about getting prescribed PEP:

What is PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a course of HIV medication that can be taken after possible exposure to HIV to prevent HIV infection. It's usually taken as a 28-day course of two different HIV medications.

While it doesn't provide pre-emptive coverage for preventing HIV transmission, PEP can be up to 80% effective in stopping HIV if started within 72 hours of exposure. That's why PEP is recommended for emergency situations where there is a significant risk of HIV transmission,

What's the Difference Between PrEP vs PEP?

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a course of HIV medication taken by people who are of negative HIV status to prevent HIV infection from happening in the first place. PrEP can be up to 99% effective in preventing HIV transmission, and it's taken once a day to keep that protection up no matter when you're about to have sex, inject a needle, etc.

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), on the other hand, is taken after possible exposure to HIV to prevent infection. PEP is not as effective as PrEP in preventing HIV (it's only 80% effective when started within 72 hours of exposure), but it can still be a lifesaving tool for people who've been exposed to HIV.

How Does PEP Work?

PEP works by interrupting the process of HIV infection, which requires the virus to enter human cells and replicate. When started within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV, PEP can prevent HIV from taking hold and replicating in the body.

PEP is usually taken orally as a 28-day course of two different HIV medications. The first medication is usually taken as soon as possible after exposure, and the second is taken twice daily for the next 12 days.

Why Should I Start PEP ASAP?

Because PEP is only affected within 72 hours of possible infection, it's absolutely vital that your prescription be handled urgently. If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV, PrEP2Me can help you get the resources and support you need to start taking PEP immediately.

What Are Some Common PEP Side Effects?

Like all medications, there is a small chance that you may experience side effects while taking PEP. The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting, which usually go away after the first few days of taking the medication.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash

If you experience any of these side effects while taking PEP, please contact your healthcare provider. They will be able to provide you with guidance on whether or not you should finish PEP.

How Do I Get Started on PEP?

When it comes to PEP, every hour counts. The sooner you start taking the medication, the better chance you have of preventing HIV.

If you believe you've been exposed to HIV and need to start PEP, contact a health care provider immediately. That health care worker can prescribe PEP and provide guidance on how to take it.

What Should I Do If I Don't Have a Doctor?

If you don't have a healthcare provider and you're not sure where to start, please don't hesitate to contact Central Outreach Wellness Center. Our competent, experienced staff can get you on PEP with urgency and begin your treatment as quickly as possible.

Why Might I Need PEP Treatment?

There are a few different reasons someone might need to start taking PEP:

  • You had unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive.
  • You shared needles with someone who is HIV-positive.
  • You were sexually assaulted by someone of unknown HIV status.
  • Your condom broke during sex with someone HIV-positive.
  • You sustained a needlestick injury at work.

In each of these cases, there is a significant risk of potential exposure, and some of the most affected groups are sex workers, those who use drugs, and healthcare workers. PEP is a sexual health issue: anyone who has sex is at risk and should consider taking PEP as a preventative measure.

When Don't I Need PEP?

There are two reasons why you may not need PEP if you have sex with someone whose HIV status is positive: They have an undetectable viral load, or you're currently on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

An undetectable viral load means that the person living with HIV has suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART) that reduces the amount of virus in their body to such an extent that it's undetectable by standard tests. If someone has an undetectable viral load, they cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners.

And if you're taking PrEP, you're already protected against HIV -- if you're taking your daily dose. If you've been missing doses of PrEP before your potential infection, you may still need PEP. When in doubt, always consult with your healthcare provider to see if PEP is right for you.

Should I Start PrEP When PEP is Available?

In short, yes. If you think you may be at risk for HIV infection, you should start taking PrEP. PEP medicines are an emergency measure meant to be taken after possible exposure to HIV, but they're not as effective as PrEP at preventing HIV infection, nor do they provide protection more than once.

PrEP is a daily medicine that you take before and after potential exposure to HIV. It's up to 99% effective at preventing HIV infection if taken daily rather than just in emergency situations, making it one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight to stop HIV.

Why is PrEP a Good Choice No Matter What?

If you're sexually active, especially if you don't always use condoms and are finding yourself at risk for HIV frequently, taking PrEP is an excellent choice for you. It's also a good idea for those who share needles for drugs, as well as health care workers who may be exposed to HIV through their work.

Get PEP Online with PrEP2Me

PEP is a vital medication for anyone who may have been exposed to HIV, but there's a time limit. If you've been exposed to HIV, it's important that you reach out to a medical provider and start taking PEP as soon as possible.

At PrEP2Me, we provide free home delivery of PEP, so you don't have to worry about going to the pharmacy to pick up your medication. PrEP2Me does not offer PEP medicines through our form process, so as soon as you learn you’ve been exposed, call our office at (412) 322-4151. We’ll discuss your options and have your PEP shipped to you within the 72-hour window.

No insurance? No problem. We offer our services regardless of your insurance coverage status. You may even qualify for free PEP medicines through a medication assistance program or workers compensation if you were infected at work.

If you’re looking for compassionate, culturally competent, in-person health care providers in Western Pennsylvania or Ohio, please don’t hesitate to visit us at Central Outreach Wellness Center. We can help you start PEP now.

At PrEP2Me, we make the prevention of HIV and AIDS simple and accessible to all!