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What's the difference between PrEP and PEP?

Jul 2, 2009

Hey Doc, Are PEP and PrEP the same thing? I'm confused. Jimbo

Response from Dr. Frascino


PEP and PrEP are similar in that these treatments both try to prevent HIV infection. But they are not exactly the same. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is administered to folks who have had a significant exposure to the virus: for instance after a broken condom incident while having sex with a poz partner or after a significant needlestick in a health care setting while treating a patient with AIDS. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), on the other hand, is taken before a potential HIV exposure. Clinical studies (currently ongoing) will determine if PrEP really does prevent infection. Both PEP and PrEP consist of a combination of antiretroviral medications, the same medications used to actually treat established HIV disease. We know that PEP/PrEP does work to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission from an HIV-positive pregnant mom to her unborn child when it is given before birth to the mom and after birth to the newborn. You can read much more about PEP/PrEP in the archives.

Dr. Bob

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