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Post Exposure Prophylaxis
Jun 6, 2014


Iam SM, Iam currently taking post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and on my third week. On my third week I got exposed to HIV again. Do I have to take another 30 days dosage or the remaining 9 days medication will do?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

You raise an interesting question, as if you're already taking PEP and your re-exposed to HIV, could the PEP work as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?

What we know that it takes about a week for PrEP to reach protective levels, so in principle, you may be already protected from the new exposure. What's not clear is how long you need to take medications for PrEP to be protected after the exposure.

Pragmatically, I'd be concerned though (in the absence of proof of the concept) that stopping too soon could still leave you at risk. Much would depend on the nature of the exposure (what was the viral load of the contact, what type of exposure - insertive, receptive, oral, anal or vaginal).

A conservative approach would be to recalibrate the timeline to add 4 weeks of treatment from the last exposure. This would leave no doubts as to the effectiveness of PEP. Moreover, if it seems that your lifestyle places you at repeated risk of exposures, you might consider asking about going on to pre-exposure prophlyaxis with Truvada. If adhered to, this has been shown to be very effective in preventing HIV infection.

I hope this is helpful, BY

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