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HomeAnswersHIV/AIDS specialistpost-exposure prophylaxisAm I safe from HIV as I took PEP after 45 hours of exposure?

I took PEP after 42 hours of HIV exposure. Am I safe?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At July 30, 2018
Reviewed AtJanuary 30, 2024

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I had protected vaginal intercourse with an HIV positive woman and I had taken PEP after 42 hours of exposure. I was texted negative at the baseline with PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) RNA (Ribonucleic acid) test and post completing PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) my blood was drawn again for PCR RNA test and it took five days to get the results. I am very happy that the result came out to be negative. The day after drawing my blood for lab test I experienced persistent pain in the neck for almost two weeks (the area around lymph nodes for two weeks) and I immediately went to the doctor and he examined my body and neck to see if there are any swollen lymph nodes. He concluded that there are not any swollen lymph nodes and I am wondering the reason behind this pain. It has been exactly 60 days after the exposure and 30 days after completing PEP. Have you seen anyone who had protected intercourse and completed PEP and later seroconverted. Does PEP delay seroconversion? If not, why does CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control) recommend testing up to three months after exposure? Have you ever come across a PEP failure? I would like to do another test for peace of mind. Do you advise me to do now or do you want me to wait for few more weeks and take the test?

Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com.

Yes. In my practice, I have couples who are serodiscordant and still remain negative even after unprotected sexual activity and even they would not use PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). The reason is, sexual transmission has the least chance of acquiring HIV comparing to injections which stand almost 90 %. Next, used PEP for both injection attack and sexual activity, and still no positive result after completion of course. PEP work by stopping the multiplication of HIV in cells and further release. PEP will not delay conversion. CDC or WHO (World Health Organization) recommend repeat testing at three, six months because of the window period for HIV. No PEP failures till date in my practice. You can have tests after completion of the third month and sixth month. The sixth month is arbitrary.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Kiran Anaparthi
Dr. Kiran Anaparthi

HIV/AIDS specialist

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