PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a course of medication that reduces your risk of HIV infection after sex. You should take PEP if you’ve had unprotected sex with somebody who you know has HIV and is not on treatment, or whose status is unknown. PEP works using antiretroviral therapy (ART), the type of medication prescribed for some HIV treatment, to stop HIV from entering your cells and replicating. You must begin within 72 hours for it to be effective, but the sooner, the better. You take a pill every day for 30 days. PEP is for men, women, and trans people. You may need it when a condom breaks, or when you did not use protection. PEP should be considered for sexual assault victims when they seek care at the ER.
Purchase an STI Home Test Kit or request a PrEP prescription and order the PrEP Home Test Kit. You will need these tests at the end of your PEP prescription. (If you do not want PrEP we will cancel that part of your order).
PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. Its medication(s) you take to reduce your risk of HIV infection if you’ve had sex with somebody who you know has HIV and is not on treatment and undetectable, or whose status is unknown. You must begin within 72 hours for it to be effective, although the sooner, the better. You take a pill every day for 30 days. PEP works by using antiretroviral therapy (ART), the same type of medication used in PrEP and HIV treatment, to stop HIV from entering your cells and replicating. We typically prescribe a medication called Biktarvy for PEP.
Anybody who has had unprotected intercourse with a partner who has HIV but is not on medication and undetectable, or whose HIV status is unknown. PEP is for men, women, and trans people. You may need it when a condom breaks, or when you did not use protection. PEP is also given to sexual assault victims when they seek care at the ER. If you're not sure whether you are at risk our providers can help you assess that.
PEP needs to be taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure. The sooner you start, the more likely it is to work. You must take PEP every day for 30 days for it to be fully effective. You’ll need a follow-up HIV test 4 to 6 weeks after exposure, along with another test about three months later.
While PrEP may be compared to birth control pills, you can think of PEP as being similar to emergency contraception. The major difference, of course, is that PEP involves a 30-day regimen rather than a single dose like Plan B One-Step or Ella.
People who take it need to stay in touch with their healthcare provider and get an HIV test three to six weeks after they begin taking PEP and again about three months later. PEP is not 100% effective but if you begin it as soon as possible within 72 hours, and continue to take your pill every day for 30 days, it’s quite likely to be effective.
It is generally quite safe, without major side effects, but you do need to stay in contact with a medical provider while you are taking it. Some people experience some stomach upset for a few days, and you may also experience trouble sleeping. In rare cases people have an allergic reaction but, again, that’s rare.
Although PEP isn’t one of our main services and we can’t deliver it in the mail, we will help a patient get PEP if they need it. If you need PEP and think Nurx may be your best option for accessing it, request an STI Home Test Kit or a PrEP prescription through our website or app. You’ll see a question about whether you’re concerned you’ve been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours. Answer “yes” then complete the process and order an STI Home Test Kit or a PrEP Home Test Kit, which you’ll need to confirm that you’re HIV-negative after you take PEP. We’ll get in touch to get you started on PEP if it’s appropriate, and will call the prescription in to a pharmacy near you. If you don’t have insurance we’ll help you apply for payment assistance through the manufacturer.
We have somebody on call to help with PEP every day, including weekends.
You can usually get PEP at your local emergency department, urgent care, or STI clinic. If that’s the fastest way for you to get started on PEP, you should do that, because you need to start within 72 hours and the sooner, the better. But Nurx is here for patients in the states that we serve if they feel that we are the fastest or safest way for them to access the medication.
PrEP is a medication HIV-negative people take to stay HIV-negative, it can be taken daily or on-demand, but in both cases it needs to be taken before a sexual encounter to be effective. Although PrEP and PEP work in a similar way, the combination of medications prescribed for PEP is different.
We are doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and physician assistants who are passionate about providing patient care. The Nurx medical team believes that everyone deserves access to personalized, non-judgmental healthcare, and that open and honest communication is key.
Cristin HackelBS, RNC, MSN, WHNP
We know that no one has time to wait in line at the pharmacy. We know that seeing a doctor often isn't easy — on your schedule, wallet, or peace of mind. Our service makes it easy for anyone, regardless of circumstance, to get medication quickly, discreetly, and affordably. So we can all stay safe and in control of our own health, always.