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HIV post exposure prophylaxis

Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a four week treatment that may prevent you from becoming infected if you have been exposed to HIV.

PEP must be started within 72 hours of the HIV risk exposure. Contact the South Australian HIV PEP hotline on 1800 022 226.

PEP may prevent HIV infection

You may be eligible for PEP if you have had any of the following risk exposures to HIV in the last 72 hours:

  • sex without a condom with a person who has, or might have, HIV
  • condom breaking or slipping off during sex
  • sharing needles, syringes or injecting equipment with a person who has, or might have, HIV
  • needle stick injury.

By taking PEP within 72 hours following an HIV risk exposure, PEP may:

  • prevent the development of HIV infection
  • make HIV infection less severe if it does occur
  • reduce the risk of HIV infection being passed on to other people.

If you think you may need PEP

PEP must be started within 72 hours of the HIV risk exposure but it works best when started as early as possible.

Contact the South Australian HIV PEP hotline on 1800 022 226.

If you think you have been exposed

In a SA Health workplace

If a potential HIV exposure occurs in a SA Health workplace then the workplace blood and body fluid exposure management procedure should be followed.

In other settings

If a potential HIV exposure occurs in a non-SA Health workplace or in a community setting, call the South Australian HIV PEP hotline on 1800 022 226. The hotline is available 24 hours a day to triage any member of the public who believes they may have been exposed to HIV. Calls are answered by a Registered Nurse who will conduct a risk assessment based on the information provided by the caller. Individuals who have had a high-risk exposure to HIV will be directed to the nearest HIV PEP access point. PEP can be accessed at a sexual health clinic such as Adelaide Sexual Health Centre or a hospital emergency department.

Undetectable HIV viral load

The risk of acquiring HIV from any exposure involving a person known to have HIV is dependent on their HIV viral load. If a person with HIV is on treatment and has a sustained, undetectable HIV viral load they cannot transmit HIV to other people.

For further information on the effect of undetectable viral load on transmission risk, see the ASHM position statement on undetectable equals untransmissible.

Other useful links

  • HIV PEP, information for health professionals


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