This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. I'm fine with this Cookie information


If you think you have been exposed to HIV you can reduce your risk of becoming infected by taking post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is a short course of medication.

How do I get PEP?

You can access PEP by phoning Sandyford on 01412118130. A nurse will ask you some questions to find out if PEP is suitable for you and will give you an appointment if required.

 This line is open Monday to Fridays from 8.45am-4.15pm, except public holidays.

If Sandyford is closed, you can access PEP at Accident and Emergency departments.

PEP can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after sexual exposure but is more likely to be effective within 24 hours (1 day) so it's important to act very quickly.  

Information in Community Languages

Access this information in a range of community languages.

What is PEP?

PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV) is a 4 week course of pills you can take if you have had a significant risk of exposure to HIV. The medication may stop you becoming infected with HIV.

How soon do you have to take PEP after you think you’ve been at risk of HIV?

PEP should be started as soon as possible because evidence suggests it is most effective when started within a few hours of exposure to HIV. PEP will not be given if  it is more than 72 hours (3 days) since you think you have been at risk of HIV

How long do you have to take PEP for?

The PEP course of pills lasts 4 weeks.  It is important not to miss any tablets and to take the tablets at the specified times.

Does PEP have side effects?

You may have some side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, headaches, tiredness.  Your doctor will discuss with you prior to prescribing PEP.  You will need to have some blood tests during the PEP course to monitor its effects on your body.

If someone is taking PEP does it make them immune to HIV?

Taking PEP reduces the risk of HIV transmission after unprotected sex but does not eliminate it completely.

If someone stayed HIV negative after taking PEP and then had condomless sex, they can become infected with HIV just like any other HIV negative person.

Is it still important to use condoms?

Yes. It is still important to use condoms because:

  • Using a condom is more likely to stop HIV being passed on than PEP
  • Condoms offer protection against pregnancy and also against STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, whereas PEP does not
  • Condoms are easily available from a range of venues near you. To find out where you can get Free Condoms look at the Free Condoms website


If Sandyford is closed

If Sandyford is closed, you can access PEP at Accident and Emergency departments.

Information about HIV

Find out more about HIV on NHS Inform.