Dear Auntie, I had sex with someone who is HIV positive and the condom broke. How can I make sure I don’t get sick?
I’m so glad you wrote in!
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, you still have a medication option to prevent yourself from being infected.
What is PEP?
PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. This means taking medicines that are used to treat HIV.
Within 72 hours or 3 days of having unprotected sex with someone who is either HIV positive or with someone who’s HIV status you don’t know, you need to start taking PEP.The sooner you start taking it, the better. Hours count in this case.
The pill is taken either once or twice daily for 28 days. It’s not 100%, but it is very effective at helping prevent HIV if you take it correctly.
How can I get PEP?
You can go see your doctor or go to the emergency room and they will prescribe you PEP. Remember timeliness is crucial here.
Things to keep in mind…
You should only take PEP in emergency situations. If you are regularly having sex with someone who is HIV positive, look into other HIV prevention methods, like PrEP.
If you have questions, you should talk to your doctor.
While you’re on PEP, make sure you continue to have safe sex and use a condom!
For more information, you can check out:
- hiv.gov or go to
- ihs.gov and search “treatment as prevention” to learn more about PEP and PrEP
- gettested.cdc.gov to find a testing center near you
Thanks for writing in!