What is PEP?

PEP or Post Exposure Prophylaxis  is used as a treatment for people who may have been exposed to HIV. This includes people who have had unprotected sex (referred to as Post Exposure Prophylaxis for Sexual Exposure or PEPSE), shared drug injecting equipment or healthcare workers who may have been exposed to the virus (e.g. through needle stick injury).

When HIV first gets into someone’s bloodstream it can take time before the virus permanently infects them. PEP can prevent this happening, but it’s important to act quickly.

Timing of PEP

In order to be effective PEP needs to be given within 72 hours of the possible exposure to HIV, although it has a better chance of working and preventing HIV infection if treatment is started within 24 hours.

In Sheffield PEP is available from a number of services:

Sexual Health Sheffield (formerly known as GUM Clinic)

Telephone 0114 226 8888 to book an appointment (you will be offered an appointment within 48 hrs ).

Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (E-Floor)

Telephone the nurse specialist on 0114 271 1882 or reception on 0114 271 3560

At weekends and bank holidays in order to access PEP within the recommended 72 hours of exposure, advice and “starter packs” are available via the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital and via the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for victims of rape.

What happens next?

The medical staff will determine whether you are eligible for PEP by discussing how you think you may have been exposed to HIV. If you are eligible and staff think you may have been put at risk, then you will be asked to come into the hospital for review, a blood test and to begin treatment. You will need to remain on treatment for four weeks, and will need to attend the hospital for check ups and blood tests during this period, and for the following three months after exposure.

You will also be monitored for side effects as PEP can make you feel sick and give you diarrhoea.

Further information

For further information and advice regarding PEP, please contact the specialist nurses on E floor on 0114 271 1882 or one of the Health Advisers at Sexual Health Sheffield on 0114 226 8888