PEP Rally

Meds Can Keep You HIV-Negative—But Do You Know About Them?

Never heard of PEP? You’re not alone.

Worse, quite a few hospitals haven’t heard of it, either. And that’s bad news, because PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, can lessen the chances you’ll get HIV.

If taken immediately after you’re exposed to HIV—ideally within two hours—PEP is very effective in preventing HIV infection. But every moment counts: the longer you wait, the less likely it is to work. If you’re HIV-negative and believe you may have been exposed to HIV, doctors say you should go to the emergency room immediately.

Unfortunately, some gay men who do so are met with ignorance.

New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital was targeted by the recently re-energized AIDS activist group ACT UP on Wednesday, July 17. A gay man recently went to that hospital’s ER to request PEP; he was told that there is no such thing. Subsequently, New York magazine reporter Tim Murphy called fifteen other New York City ERs to ask if PEP was available— most were unable to tell him until he explained what it is.

In fact, ACT UP’s Jim Eigo has documented similar mishaps at a half dozen New York city hospitals and clinics since 2011.

And if you’ve never heard of PEP, either, well, you’re in good company. The health departments in many large American cities— and, sadly, our own community-based AIDS service organizations— have done little to publicize its existence or educate the community about its effectiveness. That’s something ACT UP is keen on getting them to do.

“We are facing an HIV prevention emergency, and the city has to start treating it like one,” Eigo told Queerty. “Failure to do so will exact a high price in human misery— and in treatment costs.”

You must continue to take PEP for about a month. The meds are essentially the same as those given to people with HIV to keep the virus at bay, and the side effects can be unpleasant, so it’s not something you want to make a habit of doing: in fact, overuse can actually make you more susceptible to infection.

So, guys, the moral of the story is use a condom. But if you didn’t, or if the condom broke, go get PEP.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #gayagenda #random stories and more


  • QJ201

    “Plan B” for HIV

    It is utterly stupid and reckless not to screen a partner carefully before letting him cum up your ass…

    PEP users are those who were like “After he bred my ass, I came to suspect he was HIV positive” “He told me after he came in me he is poz” “I’m freaked out I let some guy I don’t know breed my hole”

  • someguy1

    Um…all hospitals have heard of PEP as it is part of needle stick procedure. Also there is a 72 hour window.

  • the other Greg

    @QJ201: Obviously it is too much of a bother for you to click on any of the links in the article, but other situations would include (a) RAPE and (b) when a sneaky top puts a condom on at first but takes it off later when the bottom isn’t looking. (Also what @someguy1: says, the needle stick hazard mostly with health care workers, but could happen for instance to a janitor cleaning a bar, or to a kid on a playground.)

  • Tackle

    I’m a bit confused. The Queerty seems to contradict it self. Headline says “Meds CAN KEEP YOU HIV- NEGITIVE.” Then in the article, it says “PEP:can lessen the chances of you getting HIV.” Then the article goes on to say, “If taken immediately after you’re exposed to HIV-ideally within two hours-PEP is very effective in (Preventing)HIV infection”. From what I read, and understood, PEP even if taken directly after possible HIV exposure, it is not 100% guaranteed that you will not get HIV, but it greatly reduces the chances of HIV infection. Ok. So which is it???

  • Kieru

    It’s rather disgusting to me that comments here seem to think PEP is only for people whoring around or people who are the victim of assault. What about serodiscordant partners? A condom breaks during sex, you notice you had a cut in your mouth after-the-fact. Scares happen and PEP is there to provide a potential safety net.

    I’m not surprised that hospitals aren’t going around saying “Exposed? Try our PEP Service”. It’s not meant to be your morning-after pill. You’re essentially given massive dose of anti-retrovirals That shit is going to kick you on your ass and it’s going to be a terrible experience. And it’s still not a guarantee. PEP is best within an hour of exposure. After 72 hours it’s pretty much a shot in the dark if it works at all. Even if you do take it within an hour; there is no guarantee.

    What I AM shocked at is the ignorance of some staff that it “doesn’t exist” and I pray that this ignorance is not as wide-spread as this article implies. Post-exposure prophylaxis is not limited to HIV/AIDS. Potential Rabies infections are subject to PEP treatment as are Hep-A, B, and C.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    I’m really starting to get frustrated with the growing number of folks like @QJ201 who see both PEP and PrEP (that’s when a person takes meds – usually Truvada – here’s the CDC link: IMMEDIATELY accuse those considering, needing or wanting information about these options – as hedonistic whores who bareback at will and just want a chemical get-out-of-jail card from potential HIV infection.

    As @TheOtherGreg so accurately stated, these prevention (and protection) options are there FIRST AND FOREMOST to help PREVENT the spread of HIV.

    When others villify people for using these options – it promotes the twisted perception that all gay men are reckless, hedonists who care only for their personal sexual gratification and have no capacity for true intimacy or, as the pro-prop 8 folks belive – that gay men aren’t capable of engaging in meaningful, long-term relationships – because gay men are basically sexual predators.

    Ok, so, you practice safer sex – GREAT! Bravo! You made that choice and it works for you in YOUR life situation. (BTW: There’s no 100% protection against infection except being completely abstinent) – and even if you’re in a “committed and monogamous” relationship, there’s still a CHANCE that one of the couple could be cheating on their partner and could be exposed to HIV or other STDs.

    But, as we all know, sexual behavior is NOT an “either/or” proposition. So there’s really NO benefit to bashing those who, by choice or by circumstance, potentially expose themselves to HIV – even if that sex is consensual.

    There are thousands of cases of men who practice safer sex, get tested every 3 months, and can still find themselves exposed to hiv. Yes, it’s rare, but it happens. Should we, as people like @QJ201 might be arguing, eliminate or squelch information on pre- or post- exposure treatment options? I don’t think so.

    Oh, and finally. Yes. There ARE folks who look at PEP and PrEP as justification for engaging in unsafe sex (with consensual partners). Is this, in principle, any different than women who are on the pill to prevent pregnancy? True, pregnancy and STD’s are not the exact same thing, but they are both forms of PREVENTION – and dialogue and further prevention/treatment options should be encourage – not shut down based on some twisted form of projected morality.

    @QJ201, and his ilk, sound like folks who argue that dispensing birth control to minors will be PROMOTING pre-marital sex – and sex outside of marriage. NEWS FLASH! Kids ARE having sex before marriage. And, if you follow the news at all regarding the rise in HIV infection among younger gay/bi men (especially among younger black males), shouldn’t our focus be on SUPPORTING HIV prevention methods of ALL KINDS – including PEP?

    Or, are @QJ201 and people who belive as he does, that guys who get HIV deserve it – it’s due and just punishment for their actions?

    I think that’s a barbaric position.

    Just my 2 cents!


  • dwndckd

    @ QJ201, dude I could not agree with you more. Excellent point!!!!

  • tardis

    @Tackle: “Can” is a conditional state, not an absolute one. So, use your brain a little!

  • hyhybt

    @Tackle: Those things are not at all contradictory, so there is no purpose in choosing one right wording.

    @someguy1: I was thinking that if it isn’t, it certainly ought to be.

  • Mateo

    @QJ201: And, should people who engage in unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, whether knowingly or unknowingly, not be allowed treatment?

  • Mateo

    @someguy1: the 72 hour window is CDC guidelines. Some places, like New York State, have 36-hour guidelines. Also, the “needle prick” PEP is oPEP — occupational PEP, and yes, all hospitals known about it and use it often. The problem is that there is a disparity (rooted in homophobia and sex-negative attitudes) between any healthcare professional having access to oPEP and people who need access to nPEP (non-occupational PEP).

  • Tackle

    @tardis: Who the fuck asked you? And if you’re gonna make such a bitchy comment, use your damn brain and read everything I wrote. I know what can means, and can is not the ONLY word the article pointed out. Words like (keep) you: & PREVENTING , are not a conditional state. Try coming out of your bitchy state because it blinds you.

  • Tackle

    @hyhybt: thanks for that.

  • azsxdc

    “There are thousands of cases of men who practice safer sex, get tested every 3 months, and can still find themselves exposed to hiv.”

    What? Let’s get real – the only way gay men get infected is by having anal sex without a condom. Don’t give me all that “the condom broke” BS – the condom doesn’t work if it’s still in the wrapper.

  • hyhybt

    @azsxdc: Even when used correctly and consistently, they are not 100% effective.

  • tardis

    @Tackle: I’m sorry for offending you.

  • Dr_Jonathan

    Dear Readers,

    Please do not go to the ER and as ask for “PEP”. Say you are HIV negative and have been potentially exposed. Use the terms “post exposure prophylaxis”. They ER doctors will know how to treat you and they will. Or you can call your family doctor and ask for a prescription – no ER needed. A patient called me a while back for “PEP”. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about and that there was no such thing; thank goodness I asked my patient what this “PEP” was and why he wanted it.

    Thank you,

    PS: Post exposure prophylaxis needs to be taken ASAP!!! Even 24 hour later may decrease the effectiveness significantly.

  • Tackle

    @Apology accepted. And I do not enjoy responding like I did. Especially on such a serious topic.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    this article fails to mention the need and usefulness of PrEP, aka Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. some people seeking POST-exposure prophylaxis will prove to be good candidates for PRE-exposure prophylaxis.

    NYC appears to feel that PEP isn’t cost-effective enough to promote widely, but their analysis is grievously short-sighted. it’s well established that the newly infected are by far the most infectious themselves, as the HIV virus replicates freely in the absence of antibodies to thwart it. furthermore, the higher the viral load of the person infecting the newly infected, the higher the new infectee’s viral load will spike…sometimes into the hundreds of millions. such newly infected persons may become the vector for MANY infections in highly active and/or highly closed sexual networks.

    NYC’s DOHMH is being extremely penny-wise and pound-foolish in sitting on PEP this way…especially if their figures for infection rates are as pie-in-the-sky as has been recently pointed out. their figure of “14%” of MSM who don’t know their status is apparently based on ONE Emergency Room in the Bronx over a 2 month period WITH THE DATA NOT DISTINGUISHING MSM (men who have sex with men) FROM OTHER RISK GROUPS!

    in other words, they seem to be fudging the numbers and hoping no one would notice.

    PEP works when started in time…PrEP works extremely well when adhered to. Truvada has very few or NO side effects for MOST people, and the current version of Truvada will soon be replaced with a newer, more medicinally potent version of tenofovir that has still fewer side effects.

    the Age Of Chemoprophylaxis is here, let the angry troll-queens get the fuck out the way…go worship a condom-wrapper or something.

  • hyhybt

    @Jeton Ademaj: Far from failing to mention, they’ve given PrEP its own article… in addition to several over the last few weeks, so it’s hardly a topic they avoid.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @hyhybt: i noticed. i commented. however, it would still behoove journalists writing about PEP to explore the importance of transitioning many PEP candidates to PrEP for various lengths of time.

  • dwndckd

    @Mateo, regrdaing your comment, “@QJ201: And, should people who engage in unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, whether knowingly or unknowingly, not be allowed treatment?” First, what person in their right mind would engage in unprotected sexual contact with another, without knowing the other person’s status? The question itself seems preposterous and outright comical. I mean, it’s like you give a damn about your health, or anything. WoW!

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @dwndckd: and with THIS comment, your naivete and uselessness to HIV prevention stand in stark relief. i will waste less time on u.

  • dwndckd

    @Jeton Ademaj, please do! It’s not enough that you care so little for your body/health… But, what’s worse is that you refuse to take responsibility for your actions, while attempting to lead unsuspecting others down a path of utter destruction! In essence, desire to “play,” but you don’t want to “pay.” You are indeed reckless, both in thought and possibility in action… No sir- IT IS I, WHO WILL NOT WASTE ANYMORE TIME ON YOU!

  • queerT

    Jeton is quite literally insane. He’s a gun nut who will say anything to have more fools to cum inside. Just look up his profiles online. It’s jetonredux on manhunt.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @dwndckd: that’s a lot of prattled nonsense. natural sex is not some mortal sin with some inherent karmic debt, u idiot. the split second ANYTHING comes along that lets people enjoy it without getting infected, they will make a stampede away from the incoherent pretenses surrounding condoms and their MYTHOLOGY.

    it’s not that they don’t work (at preventing infections), it’s that they SUCK BADLY at keeping sex enjoyable, and now there’s things that work BETTER at preventing infections (PrEP, Seropositioning) than condoms ever could, AND they keep sex the fantastic thing it is in it’s NATURAL, UNSHEATHED and UNVULCANIZED state.

    please, choke on that.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @queerT: YAY! thanks for reminding me to delete that 5 year old anachronism! who the fuck cruises on Manhunt anymore? btw troll, nothing i’ve ever written is untrue…ever. unlike my hoards of silly stalkerazi.

  • queerT

    It’s always great to hear from poz guys the best way to stay neg. Maybe I should get a fat trainer. Or a luddite to fix my computer.
    Since you worship all that’s natural so much Jeton why don’t you do us all a favor and stop taking the very unnatural drugs that keep you alive. And if you really want to talk “natural” there are plenty that would say there’s nothing “natural” about sticking your dick in someone’s ass.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @queerT: ahh, i miss this level of idiocy! well, “queerT”, i promise to not be offended if you completely dispense with my advice. the logic is simple: i dislike being poz and enjoy geekishly sharing the now well-established science of Prevention with people, except with scumbags like yourself…so your know-nothing denial is perfect kismet.

    i’ll pick and choose what natural things i’ll enjoy, thanks. natural sex enabled by post-natural medication is VAAASSSSTLY superior to unnatural sex and a shorter, unmedicated life. please don’t take my word for it tho, i hate the idea that you may live thanks to my advice.

    sticking my dick in a man’s ass is the most natural, and yet fantastic thing in the world. there are “plenty that would say” otherwise, but they stand refuted for decades now. you are welcome to join that crowd in the dustbin of history.

  • dwndckd

    @queerT, it is useless to reason with someone who chooses not to see reason, but insists on propagating harmful and misinformation. My heart goes out to those persons (young, old, or whomever) that may have the misfortune to come into contact with “aforementioned” individual.

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @dwndckd: stop crying, you were defeated. learn it, live it, love it. try to write in correct English, please…

  • dwndckd

    @Jeton Ademaj: defeated, seriously– please don’t make me laugh… However, I am curious… How did you become HIV positive? Would you care to share?

  • Jeton Ademaj

    @dwndckd: rough fucking WITH condoms. getting poz is how i discovered how amazing bareback really is compared to rubber-sex. it became clear that it was better to keep bareback infection free than to try and stop it, because there’s no contest whatsoever.

    you have no idea how restrained i’m being right now, because i work with activists who feel more like yourself…and i dont want to discourage condom usage for whatever group actually enjoys using them.

    however, when ANYONE wants to claim that bareback sex is in any way pathological or inferior, they now get the VERY EASY smackdown.

    rest assured, there are levels and more levels of attack held in reserve.

    but hey, try me. u KNOW u wanna! ;-)

  • dwndckd

    @Jeton Ademaj, my God—I truly believe that you have mistaken my intent. Please allow me to clarify– I did not claimed that bareback sex was inferior. However, I did state that it was “RECKLESS” and by “NO MEANS SAFE.” Moreover, we are all adults here and are responsible for our “own” actions! Therefore, my thought is this- as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else…”Do what the Fuck you want to do.” As long as it doesn’t impact me, my family, or any unsuspecting people, I truly don’t give a shyt how you fuck… Likewise, in terms of a “smack down” my word to you is, bring it! Really there is nothing you could possible say to convince me otherwise… One would think that an HIV positive individual would not want to spread the virus to unsuspecting individuals…. Also, an individual with a sense of honor would also place prevention at the forefront of their mind. But hey—more power to you! I am an advocate for stopping the spread of HIV and other diseases that harm life, not glorifying the “RECKLESS” behavior of those who just want to get a quick nutt and say damn the consequences!

Comments are closed.