PEP 101

What is PEP?

  • PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. 

  •  It is a medicine to be taken after you may have been exposed HIV.

  • PEP must be started within 3 days (72 hours), but the sooner you start the better.

  • If you are prescribed PEP, you'll need to take it once or twice daily for 28 days.   

Note: PEP it is intended for emergencies. If you are exposed to HIV frequently, you may want to consider PrEP. 

 

CDC PEP Basics→

Does insurance cover PEP?

Yes, but out of pocket costs may vary. If you are struggling with out-of-pocket costs contact us- we can help you connect with patient assistance programs and providers that can help make PEP affordable. 

What if I don't have insurance or I'm not a U.S. citizen?

PEP is available regardless of your immigration status or whether or not you have insurance. There are also patient access programs that can help with the cost of PEP if you are uninsured.  

Are there side-effects?

  • The medications used in PEP are known to be well tolerated by most people.

  • If you have concerns about side-effects speak to your provider or pharmacist about it, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

  • You can also call us! We'll connect you with an HIV specialist who will be able to answer any questions you might have. 

Are there different kinds of PEP?

You may hear the terms "nPEP" (non-Occupational PEP) or "oPEP" (occupational PEP).

 

  • The only difference between these types is the circumstance of the potential exposure.

  • For oPEP, the potential exposure happened at work, but nPEP is for potential exposures outside of work.

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If you were exposed to HIV at work - let us know and we can help you work through the insurance and other protocols that might come into play. 

  

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PEP in Maine

Step 1: Find a Provider

Where to Get PEP

  • Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) 

  • Community and clinical resources: Any of the places listed on our provider page can help you with PEP.

  • Emergency or Urgent Care services

You need to start PEP within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure, so it is very important to reach out ASAP. There are many places to get PEP and multiple ways to pay for it. This site and our team is here to help you through this and get your treatment started in time. 

Step 2: HIV Testing

PEP patients should be tested for HIV before and after taking PEP. However, PEP should not be delayed if HIV testing or results are not immediately available.

Your PCP can perform these tests, but if you aren’t comfortable using your PCP, or concerned about cost - the providers in the clinical service providers section can test you for free or low cost, even without insurance.

In addition to HIV testing, you may also want to screen for other STIs like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea following possible HIV exposure.  

 

Your PCP can perform these tests, but some individuals prefer to do their sexual health screenings elsewhere. See our clinical and sexual health providers section for testing options. 

NOTE: While you should not delay getting tested for STIs, the timeline for testing for STIs following exposure varies. Ask your PCP or another provider about how long you should wait to get tested for different STIs based on when you believe you might have been exposed.

 

If you are prescribed PEP following a sexual assault. . .

The Maine Victims' Compensation Fund is designed to cover the cost of medical forensic treatment following a sexual assault. This includes a 3-5 day PEP starter pack.

 

Additional PEP reimbursements are also available through the fund, but requires that a police report be filed and cooperation with the police investigation. 

For additional support, please see the information about the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARSM), or this resource from Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. 

Step 3: Pay for PEP

Insurance

PEP is covered by most insurance plans, but out of pocket costs can vary. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to coverage. Even with insurance, co-pays and deductibles may make PEP seem unaffordable. We can connect you with programs that can help pay for the medication so reach out if you are concerned about the cost of PEP. 

Payment Assistance Programs

In addition to providing financial support for PrEP co-pays, Patient Assistance Programs like the Patient Access Network (PAN), the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), and Good Days offer financial assistance for PEP co-pays.

 

The Patient Access Network Foundation's HIV Treatment & Prevention Program →

The Patient Advocate Foundation's Co-Pay Relief Program → 

Good Days' HIV and AIDS Treatment & Prevention Program→

If you were exposed at work. . .

If you are exposed to HIV at work you should be able to get assistance getting a prescription through your employer.