UT University Health Services

HIV/AIDS, PEP, Pre-Exposure Medication (PrEP)


For known HIV exposure, call the Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877 (NURS) immediately to be evaluated for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is only effective within the first 72 hours after exposure.

What's on This Page?


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a viral infection that can progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if untreated. HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk of an HIV-infected person.

Advances in antiretroviral therapies (ART) mean that people with HIV infection can live long, healthy lives. Approximately 1.1 million people in the United States currently live with HIV.

Common Symptoms

HIV infection progresses through three stages.

  • Acute HIV infection occurs two to four weeks after infection. Some people have flu-like symptoms. Others do not.
  • Clinical latency follows acute HIV infection. Many people do not have symptoms, although the virus continues to replicate in the body. Consistent use of ART helps slow replication, allowing many people to stay in this stage for decades.
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the third stage of HIV infection in which the virus has severely damaged the immune system. People are highly vulnerable to potentially fatal opportunistic infections --- infections caused by pathogens that normally do not cause significant illness in people with healthy immune systems. Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph glands, chronic fatigue, persistent diarrhea, fever, night sweats, memory loss or confusion, and weight loss.

Prevention and Treatment

Sexual transmission of HIV disease can be dramatically reduced by using condoms and dental dams correctly and consistently. They are even more effective if paired with PREP or ART.

A blood test can detect HIV infection as early as the acute infection stage. Those testing positive for HIV, can manage the virus with ART. Several support groups for those with HIV infection exist in Austin.

To get the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment and to avoid transmitting an infection to others, sexually active individuals should get tested regularly for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV, even if they do not have symptoms.

Partner Notification

It is important that those testing positive for HIV notify previous sexual partners so they can get tested. UHS staff can help talk students through the partner notification process.

How to get tested for HIV and other STIs at UHS and how to communicate positive results to sexual partners.


PEP is a combination of three drugs. You take them once or twice a day for 28 days: For adults, the CDC recommends tenofovir, emtricitabine (these two drugs come in one pill), and a third drug, either raltegravir or dolutegravir.

When should I start PEP and how long do I need to take it? PEP must be started within 72 hours (3 days) after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner you start it, the better, every hour counts. You need to take the PEP medicines every day for 28 days

It is best to take your pills at the same time every day. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as possible and then continue as before.

You may drink moderate amounts of alcohol (within normal recommended safe limits) while taking this medication. If you usually take multivitamins, calcium tablets or treatment for indigestion, please discuss this with the Doctor or Nurse as they may affect how well the Raltegravir is absorbed.

The efficacy of PEP for sexual exposure is reported to be as high as 99.96% if PEP was taken correctly. PEP is most effective if: Started within 72 hours post-exposure, preferably within 24 hours. Taken with high adherence for the whole course of treatment (no late or missed dose).

One recommended strategy is to get tested 2-4 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after a risky exposure. Using a sensitive antigen/antibody HIV test, of those who are infected, most will test positive at 1 month; almost all will test positive at 3 months; and the rest will test positive at 6 months.

More Information

Center for Disease Control - What is PEP?

CDC Video on PEP

PrEP: pre-exposure prophylaxis

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

Different types of PREP

There are two medications approved for use as PrEP: Truvada ® and Descovy®.

  • TRUVADA for PrEP® (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a once-daily prescription medicine for adults at risk for HIV.
  • DESCOVY for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a once-daily prescription medicine for adults and adolescents at risk of HIV. It helps lower the chances of getting HIV through sex.
  • DESCOVY for PrEP is not for everyone: It is not for use in people assigned female at birth who are at risk of getting HIV from vaginal sex, because its effectiveness has not been studied.

Is PrEP safe?

  • PrEP is safe but some people experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects usually go away over time.
  • Tell your health care provider about any side effects that are severe or do not go away.

More Information

Center for Disease Control - What is PrEP?

Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

Hepatitis B
Sexually Transmitted Infections

Healthy Sexuality

Healthy Sexuality Topics
Classes and Workshops
Request Free/Low-Cost Condoms
Men's Sexual Health
Off-Campus STI / HIV testing locations
Sexually Transmitted Infections
UHS STI Testing
UHS Sexual Assault Forensic Exams
AlcoholEdu and SAPU
Gynecology Clinic

hours Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm by appointment Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm
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512) 471-4955 (512) 471-4955
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University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.


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