The difference between PEP and PrEP

PrEP and PEP are both HIV inhibitors to prevent HIV. The difference is that PEP is a course of treatment that you start as soon as possible after you have been at high risk of contracting HIV through unsafe sex, for example. PrEP is a long-term preventative measure against HIV.

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

If you have had unprotected anal sex with someone who is (possibly) HIV-positive, we advise you to get PEP treatment. This is a treatment with medicines (HIV inhibitors) that reduce your chances of becoming HIV-infected. These drugs prevent the virus from settling in your body.

PEP treatment should be started within 72 hours of the risk. The sooner, the better. The duration of a course of PEP treatment is for 4 weeks. You will need to go to a doctor for PEP treatment.

Are you unsure if you are eligible for PEP? If so, contact ACS
You may feel sick (nauseous and tired) from using PEP. You will need to visit the GGD or hospital several times for follow-up checks. A PEP treatment can cost lots of money since you will be charged for your health insurance excess.

PrEP (Pre Exposure Profylaxe)

PrEP prevents you from contracting HIV after unprotected sex. You run a greater risk of contracting HIV if you have unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know. You are also at greater risk if you have just had (or recently recovering from) an STI such as syphilis.

PrEP has been scientifically proven to be effective and safe against HIV infection, but it does not protect against other STIs.

If you have already have HIV, PrEP is of no help. HIV infection is not cured by PrEP. You will need different medication.

A PrEP consultation

Your first appointment will involve us taking tests for HIV, STI and kidney function to see if you can begin PrEP treatment. Please feel free to talk about any concerns you have. Your nurse can help with that—we realise this is stressful for you.

One month later, you’ll come to come back to ACS for a follow up. After this visit, check ups are every three months. During the 3-monthly check-ups, we take tests for HIV and STIs. At these appointments, you will be given PrEP.

PrEP medication is not free

Using PrEP is not free. You pay a co-payment of €7.50 for 30 pills at ACS. If you think you will struggle to cover the cost, we can work with you to find a suitable payment option. The STI tests are free.

How do you take PrEP?

There are two ways to take PrEP. Both ways offer good protection against HIV. You can choose between:

  • 1 pil every day
  • When you have sex

You can also switch between these methods. If you’d like to know which method best suits you, discuss with your ACS nurse.

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