Safer Sex accident / PEP

Vor zwei geöffneten Tablettendosen liegen zwei rosane und eine blaue Tablette.

Sometimes, accidents happen with safer sex. Condoms can tear or come off, for example. Sometimes they are simply forgotten in the heat of the moment.

If one partner is HIV-positive, it is possible for HIV to be transmitted. But there is no need to panic: in all probability, an HIV infection can still be prevented.

This is done by taking HIV medication for four weeks. The drugs prevent HIV from becoming established in the body. This treatment is called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP for short.

Important: A PEP should be started as soon as possible after the "accident", ideally within two hours; otherwise within 24 hours if possible, and within 48 hours at the latest. It is debatable whether PEP can still be effective up to 72 hours (three days) after the possible exposure.

Here you can look for your city and clinics nearby to go to.

When is it useful to get a PEP?

A PEP will be done if someone participates in unprotected sex (anal or vaginal) with a partner, who

  • is very likely to be HIV-positive
  • actually is HIV-positive and has provable viruses in their bloodstream (This won't happen if the person is under a well functioning therapy)

Other situations, where a PEP would be a good precaution

  • Medical personnel got into contact with a syringe or something else that has come into contact with blood from an HIV-positive person.
  • While injecting drugs, someone used a syringe that has been used by an HIV-positive person.

At a counseling session at an ambulance or a doctor's office will be decided if a PEP is advisible.

Should this happen accidentally, it's best to take the HIV-positive partner with you to the appointment so they can give more information about their infection, their therapy and the resistance.

Where can you get a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)?

Only specialised hospitals and doctor's offices know how to do a PEP properly. (An overview of suitable contact points can be found here.) These ambulances are always open (24/7). During the day, a PEP can also be done in HIV specialised facilities.
When in doubt choose the facility that is closest to you and fastest to reach.

If you have any questions you can call the phone consultation of the german aidshilfen.

Which side effects does a PEP have?

The PEP is therapy that uses HIV medications over the course of four weeks. Side effects can be headaches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Immediate Safety Measurments after unprotected intercourse

After unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person there is several things you can do to minimize the risk of transmitting HIV

  • unprotected anal or vaginal penetration (high risk): wash the penis under running water with soap. Pull back the foreskin and wash the inner side and the glans (without too much pressure) thoroughly
  • intake of semen through the mouth (low risk): spit it out immediately and flush your mouth three to four times with water
  • getting semen into the eye (low risk): rinse out with water
  • important: please don't carry out an irrigation of your guts or your vagina. this could encourage the intake of the HI-virus into the body.

Attention: These immediate safety measurements only reduce the risk to a minor degree. They do not replace the protection of a condom nor - if worst comes to worst - the PEP treatment.