What’s the Difference Between PrEP and PEP?

Key Takeaways
  • PrEP is used to prevent the transmission of HIV, before you’ve been exposed to the virus. PEP is a variety of medications that are used to reduce the risk of STI transmission after exposure (including gonorrhoea, syphilis, and chlamydia).
  • PrEP is 99% effective against transmission when taken as instructed. On the other hand, PEP medications range between 70-80% effective; depending on the type of exposure, medications being used, and each individual’s health and medical history.
  • PrEP medications are available as both oral pills and injections, while PEP medications are only prescribed in pill form.

There’s few things in life more enjoyable and better for our mental health than ongoing peace of mind. However, getting peace of mind is often easier said than done.

Thankfully, for those who are concerned about exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), there are treatments available that can give you that all-important peace of mind.

Felix believes that PrEP and PEP medications should be available for everyone that wants them, but exactly what is Prep and PEP? How well does PrEP and PEP work? Which is better for you, PrEP or PEP treatments?

This page has all the answers to get started with both PrEP and PEP, so you can start enjoying the peace of mind of knowing you can access any of the HIV protections you need.

What is PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

PrEP is an acronym that stands for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis.

These are various medication regimens that can be taken to reduce the risk of HIV exposure, including both daily and on-demand prescriptions. In either case, these medications need to be taken on a regular basis, in order to remain effective.

How Well Does PrEP Work?

PrEP medications have been shown to be 99% effective against reducing the risk of HIV transmission, as long as it’s used as instructed by your healthcare practitioner at Felix.

This means following dosage instructions closely, and not missing doses of your medication. When instructions aren’t followed, the efficacy of PrEP medications can’t be guaranteed.

What Forms of PrEP Medications are Available?

There are both daily PrEP medications, as well as ones that can be taken as needed, depending on each person’s individual needs.

These medications are prescribed to be administered either as injections or to be taken orally, depending on which option your healthcare practitioner believes will work best for you, based on your current health and medical history.

What is PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

Conversely, Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a medication that’s used to reduce the risk of STI transmission, after exposure is believed to have occurred.

Unlike PrEP medications, PEP is assessed on a case-by-case basis, as it’s used to reduce the risk of transmitting STIs other than HIV. PEP medications can also be used to prevent infection from:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis

It’s also important to know that there are different medications used to treat the above bacterial STIs, compared to the ones that are prescribed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission but they’re all considered PEP treatments.

How Well Does PEP Work?

How well PEP treatments will work depends on a number of different factors.

First, it will depend on how you were exposed to the virus.

PEP medications have been shown to be 70-80% effective against occupational exposures. Unfortunately, there are limited studies available at this time that show how effective PEP medications are at lowering the risk of HIV transmission in non-occupational settings.

Second, it will depend on which medication you’ve been prescribed.

Different medications will have slightly different efficacies, depending on your personal physiology, your current health, medical history, and the type of exposure you’ve had.

If you have any questions about how effective PEP medications could be in your situation, talk to your healthcare practitioner at Felix. They’ll be able to give you any further guidance that you may need to maintain your peace of mind.

What Forms of PEP Medications are Available?

PEP medications are only prescribed as pills, which means that they are to be taken orally.

Other instructions, like whether to take your medication with food, and how often to take your doses will be provided to you with your prescription.

It’s important to note that PEP medications are only taken in limited courses, since they are used to specifically treat potential exposures that have already occurred.

For those that are facing regular potential exposures, your healthcare practitioner may suggest a PrEP medication, rather than PEP treatments.

So, What Are the Differences Between PrEP and PEP?

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between these two types of treatments, and depending on whether you’re using PrEP or PEP, it’s not the same drugs being prescribed.

PrEP medications are used to lower the risk of transmission before exposure, while PEP treatments are used to prevent infection after exposure has potentially occurred.

Used properly, PrEP medications are 99% effective, while PEP sits between 70-80% effective, depending on how the exposure happened, and the medications that are being prescribed as treatment.

PrEP and PEP meds can be pills, but PrEP is also sometimes prescribed as an injection.

How Do I Access PrEP?

If you’ve got any other questions you’d like to ask about starting PrEP medications, we’d love to hear from you. Just complete a short online assessment, and one of our experts will be happy to give you any additional guidance that you need to get started.

Don’t spend your life worrying. Start enjoying the peace of mind of knowing that you’re protected against HIV with Felix today.

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