PEP: Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
If you’re not using PrEP there’s another prevention option you should know about: post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP.
PEP is a 28-day course of anti-HIV medication that can be prescribed immediately after a possible exposure to HIV. This might be after an accident at work (such as a needle-stick injury), after unprotected sex with someone living with HIV who isn’t on treatment, or someone of unknown HIV status, or after sharing injecting drug equipment.
It’s important that PEP be started as soon as possible—ideally within 48 hours. The sooner it is started the better the chance it will work. PEP will not be prescribed more than 72-hours (3 days) after the possible exposure.
You can get PEP from many Emergency Departments in Ireland and some STI clinics. Here is a full list of places where PEP is available in Ireland.
Not everyone who seeks PEP will get it—it’s prescribed only in situations with fairly high risk of HIV transmission. The HSE developed this tool to help doctors decide when to prescribe PEP. This may help you better understand the circumstances where a doctor will or won’t be likely to prescribe PEP.
PEP is free in Ireland, but if you access it in an A&E or Emergency Department you may have to pay a fee of €100.
Hospitals are required to charge that fee to anyone using an Emergency Department in Ireland who doesn’t have a medical card or a referral from a GP. The HSE is currently looking into whether that fee can be waived for people accessing PEP, but at the moment the fee remains in place.
For more information on PEP is available on these pages: