What is PEP?
Post-exposure prophylaxis ,or in short, PEP, is a short term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the chances of contracting an HIV infection after a potential exposure (for example, unprotected sex or a work-related accident where there is a risk of becoming infected with HIV).
How does it work?
In order for the prophylactic treatment to be effective, the treatment must be taken up to 72 hours after the exposure. Why? This is because we want to "catch" the virus before it has enough time to multiply in large volumes in our body. The treatment usually contains a "cocktail' of 2–3 different medications and is given for 28 days. Side effects, such as nausea and vomiting in some cases, should be taken into account. It is important to note that adhering to taking the medication on a daily basis and for the entire period prescribed is crucial for the efficacy of the treatment.
"Morning After" pill? Not really
PEP does not prevent infection with 100% certainty and does not guarantee that a person who takes the treatment after exposure will not become infected with HIV. It has a high success rate of preventing infection (more than 80% according to studies reported to the World Health Organization – WHO) but it does not provide absolute prophylaxis. The prophylactic treatment is not intended to replace safe sexual behavior, which should always consist of using a condom, and it is less effective than preventing exposure to HIV in the first place.
Where can one get PEP?
The treatment is only administered in hospitals that have an AIDS Center. It is possible to go to the emergency room of any of the following hospitals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The hospitals that have an AIDS Center:
Ichilov Hospital – Immunology Clinic
Tel Hashomer Hospital – Infections Clinic
Rambam Hospital – Immunology Clinic
Meir Hospital – Immunology and Allergy Clinic
Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital– Infections Clinic
Soroka Hospital – Infections Clinic
Kaplan Hospital – Neve-Or Clinic
Remember that this is not treatment that is provided upon your request – the treatment is given based on the decision of the doctor that you see in the emergency room. The decision will be made after a consultation with an AIDS specialist or an infectious diseases specialist. They will evaluate whether the level of exposure in your particular case warrants providing prophylactic treatment.
How much will it cost me?
The treatment is given free of charge to every Israeli citizen registered with an HMO plan. Anyone who receives a prophylactic treatment will usually receive it from the hospital for the first day or two and then receive a prescription for the remainder of the period. This means that this information will appear in your HMO chart.
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