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 from higher risk groups who have had unprotected sex, shared drug injecting equipment, or people who have been sexually assaulted. Healthcare workers or other professionals who may have been exposed to the virus (e.g. through needle stick injury) are advised to contact Occupational Health or A&E to access PEP. 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 much better chance of working and preventing HIV infection if treatment is started within 24 hours.

In Sheffield PEP is available from:

Sexual Health Sheffield (Mon-Fri)

Telephone 0114 226 8888. You will be added to a telephone list for a clinician to call you and assess you the same day. We are closed on Friday afternoons and if you call at this time you will be directed to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital.

Accident and Emergency (weekends and bank holidays)

At weekends and bank holidays in order to access PEP as soon as possible, please attend the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital and they can assess you and prescribe PEP if indicated. If you have been sexually assaulted the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) can prescribe PEP. You will then be referred to Sexual Health Sheffield for follow up.

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 begin treatment. You will need to remain on treatment for the full 28 days, and will need to attend Sexual Health Sheffield for check ups and blood tests after completing treatment, 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 about PEP

For further information and advice regarding PEP, please contact one of our Health Advisers at Sexual Health Sheffield on 0114 226 8888