I need HIV Treatment

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight other infections. About 70-90% of people living with HIV have no symptoms and carry the infection without knowing. It can be treated with a course of medication called PEPSE if started within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.

What is PEPSE?

PEPSE is a course of medication that’s to be taken after you have been exposed to HIV through sex. This medication will try and prevent you becoming infected with virus. PEPSE stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposure.

Who is it for?

PEPSE should be used by people who have had unprotected sex with someone they believe to have HIV, or people who have been sexually assaulted. Unprotected sex includes sex with a damaged condom or a condom that has slipped off during sex.

How soon should I take it?

PEPSE must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The earlier you take it, the better chance you have of the treatment working.

Where can I get it?

You should be able to get PEPSE from your local sexual health service and GUM clinics, as well as hospitals (usually A&E) out of hours. If your nearest service is a Virgin Care service, you can find details of our locations in Bury, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Oldham, Rochdale, Surrey and Teesside. You will need to call us first rather than book an appointment directly online so we can make sure you get the right advice and treatment.

If there isn’t a Virgin Care service near you, use the NHS Clinic Finder tool to find your nearest service. If this is out of hours, find your nearest A&E.

What can I expect to happen?

A medical professional will take some details and discuss if PEPSE will be appropriate or suitable for you. They will also do some blood tests. If they decide to prescribe PEPSE, you will need to complete a course of treatment, taking pills every day for 4 weeks. It is very important not to miss a pill or to take a break in your treatment. Side effects are not uncommon and will be discussed with you in detail. You will be asked to return for a follow up HIV blood test after three or four months to confirm that you have not been infected with HIV.

Is there anything else I should know?

You must use condoms until you have the final HIV test to confirm that you have not been infected with HIV. PEPSE reduces the risk of getting the virus, but does not work all the time so it should never be considered a substitute for condoms or as a cure for HIV.

Where can I get more information?

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