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Our aim was to compare the assault characteristics of victims presenting to a sexual assault service who were prescribed HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (HIV PEP) with those not prescribed HIV PEP. A retrospective review was carried out of the medical records of victims who were seen over a 12-month period in 1999/2000.HIV PEP may have been potentially appropriate for 117 victims, of whom nine (7.7%) were prescribed PEP (eight women, one man). There was a trend for prescription of PEP to depend on the type of assault, with those suffering anal penetration most likely to be prescribed PEP, followed by those with vaginal, and then oral penetration (P=0.08). Those who gave a history of oral or vaginal mucosal contact with ejaculate were more likely to receive PEP compared with those in whom ejaculation occurred at a non-mucosal site (P=0.03). Most prescribed PEP regimens involved three antiretroviral drugs.In this study, HIV PEP, when prescribed, was in accord with existing guidelines. Future studies should aim to better document HIV seroconversions in victims of sexual assault and HIV seroprevalence in assailants.