What is PEP?

PEP is a month-long course of drugs that, if taken within 72 hours of the HIV virus entering the body, can prevent a person 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.

Post = after

Exposure = a situation where HIV enters someone's body (eg: during unprotected fucking or by sharing needles)

Prophylaxis = treatment for disease

Is PEP a cure for HIV?

There is no cure for HIV once it has established itself in the body. However, if taken within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure to the HIV virus PEP can, in most cases, prevent it from establishing itself in the body.

How does PEP work?

It takes a few days for HIV to become established in the body following exposure. PEP drugs given at this time may help the body's immune system to stop the virus from replicating (multiplying) in the infected cells of the body. The cells originally infected would then die naturally within a short period of time without producing more copies of the HIV virus.

But if the HIV virus is already in the body, isn't it too late?

Not if you act quickly. After HIV gets in the bloodstream it takes some time before it permanently establishes itself in the body. If a person who has been exposed to the virus acts quickly (within 72 hours) they stand a chance of stopping the virus from establishing itself in their body.

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