What is nPEP?
Non-occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (nPEP) is treatment for a possible exposure to HIV outside of a health care setting. nPEP involves the use of antiretroviral drugs within 72 hours after a high-risk exposure to HIV such as a needle stick or unprotected sex with someone who is known to be HIV+ or suspected to be at risk for HIV.
nPEP is taken to reduce (but not eliminate) the possibility of HIV infection. Antiretroviral medications are used to treat HIV disease and, in this case, nPEP is a four-week program of two or three antiretroviral medications, taken several times a day. The medications have serious side effects that can make it difficult to finish the program.
Treatment should be started promptly, preferably within the first several hours after an exposure. It should be administered within 48 hours of a high-risk exposure (not to exceed 72 hours). The sooner nPEP is administered, the more effective it is.
If a high-risk exposure has occurred, what should I do?
In the case of a high-risk exposure to HIV, the individual should be referred immediately to a hospital emergency room (ER). ER staff will determine the severity of the exposure and if the administration of nPEP is an option.
Medical professionals who are unsure if nPEP should be administered should call the National Clinicians' Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Hotline (PEPline) at 1-888-448-4911 for consultation. Hotline staff will help determine if nPEP should be administered, and recommend a treatment regimen specific to the exposure and the source history (if available).
People with adequate insurance can access nPEP through their health care providers.