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Date: 23 September 2023

Time: 18:37

Post exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure to HIV (PEPSE)

If you have had a condom breakage or unprotected sex, treatment is now available that may prevent your sexual partner from contracting HIV.

It is vital that this medication is given within 72 hours of the potential risk as the medication is not effective after this time. However, the earlier the medication can be given the better (see below for the number to contact if you feel you our your partner may qualify for PEPSE).

Things you need to know before starting PEPSE

  • The medication needs to be taken for one month to be effective
  • It can have unpleasant side effects, i.e. nausea, diarrhoea
  • If the medication does not work and HIV is diagnosed, we cannot use the medications in the future to help treat HIV as resistance may have occurred
  • We will need to monitor carefully during the month course of tablets and then for another three months afterwards

What happens if I need to have PEPSE?

  • If you have had a condom breakage during sex or have had unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, you need to telephone the on-call doctor as soon as you are able
  • The doctor will take some details from you and discuss if PEPSE medication would be suitable for you
  • If you decide that you wish to go ahead with treatment, the doctor will arrange to meet you either at Whittall Street Clinic or at an accident and emergency department
  • The doctor will take a set of blood tests from you, to check for liver function, kidney function, blood count and may test for hepatitis B and syphilis
  • You will have an HIV test prior to starting treatment, as if you are already HIV positive, giving PEPSE may reduce the types of HIV medication we can give you in the future
  • The doctor will explain how to take the medication and ask you to sign to say you are happy to take it
  • You will be given an appointment in three day's time at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Outpatients Department to ensure you are not having any problems with the medication
  • Once you have finished the month's course you will have an appointment for blood tests to check your kidney and liver function
  • After 3 months we will ask you to come back in for a final HIV test

PEPSE should never be thought of as a substitute for using condoms.

If you feel you or your partner have been at risk of contracting HIV within the last 72 hours, please attend the Emergency Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham as soon as possible.

Telephone: 0121 371 2600

Be aware that if you have HIV we cannot give PEPSE to someone without them knowing your status. We would always recommend telling your partner before you have sex. If you are worried about telling your partner, or would like to discuss this with someone, please see the section on health advisors.

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