PEP Hotline: 1800 022 226 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
For a full list of locations where you can access PEP, visit SA Health.
What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
If you believe you have been exposed to HIV, PEP may prevent you from becoming infected.
PEP is a month-long course of drugs that, if taken within 72 hours of the HIV virus entering the body, can potentially prevent a person from becoming infected with HIV. The PEP drugs are the same drugs that people who have the HIV virus use to reduce its impact on the body.
PEP is short for Post Exposure Prophylaxis, meaning it is taken after exposure to HIV (a situation where HIV enters someone’s body eg: during unprotected sex or by sharing needles or other injecting equipment) in order to prevent contraction of the disease.
Things to know:
- PEP is not the morning after pill: it is a month-long course of drugs
- Treatment with PEP needs to begin within 72 hours, the sooner the better, if you are outside the time frame still contact your clinic or doctor and they can assist you further.
- PEP Can have temporary side-effects including nausea and diarrhoea.
- PEP isn’t guaranteed to work but does in the majority of cases.
What are the most common reasons for needing PEP?
- Sex without a condom with a person who has, or might have, HIV
- Sharing needles or syringes with a person who has, or might have, HIV
- Condom breaking or slipping off during sex
Where can I get PEP?
PEP is available from the Emergency Departments of most public hospitals, sexual health clinics and some other clinics and doctors that specialise in gay men’s health and HIV. For clinics and doctors, it’s a good idea to call first to make sure they are open, and to let them know in advance that you are coming to get PEP. If the exposure happens after hours, Emergency Departments are often the best place to go to make sure you start PEP as soon as possible.
Calling the PEP hotline will put you in contact with a healthcare worker who can assess your needs and indicate where best to access PEP near you.