Effectiveness of post-exposure prophylaxis

Published: 07 April 2009
  • PEP has been shown to be effective in animal studies.
  • An observational study in Brazil calculated that PEP reduced the seroconversion rate in gay men by 83%.
  • Some PEP failures have been attributed to people taking further sexual risks while on PEP.

A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in animal models and in humans. Studies in humans have largely concentrated on ‘occupational exposure’, usually of healthcare workers. However, more recent findings have looked at infection rates following exposure through non-occupational means, such as unprotected sex.

It is not possible to carry out randomised trials comparing PEP to no treatment in humans, as this would involve denying some exposed patients treatment. Consequently, almost all of the evidence on the effectiveness of PEP in humans comes from observational studies.

Evidence for the effectiveness of PEP has been demonstrated by prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by short courses of antiretroviral drugs in newborns. This is discussed in Mother-to-child transmission.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.