What is HIV PEP / HIV Prevention / HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis?

HIV PEP or HIV Prevention / Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is the use of antiretroviral (ARV) medications to prevent or to stop the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from entering and infecting the body after exposure. Antiretroviral (ARV) medications or antiretroviral therapy (ART) has become the standard of care for healthcare workers who have had accidental occupational exposure to HIV for e.g. needlestick injuries or contact of mucous membrane or exposed skin to potentially infectious material such as blood or bodily fluids. Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) has also been offered to people who have had non-occupational exposure to HIV for e.g. sexual exposure or injection drug use.
Examples of situations where PEP may be required: occupational exposures ( healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, prison officers etc. )  unprotected sex with high risk partners eg. commercial sex workers, IV drug users, known HIV-infected persons  condom slips or condom breaks with high risk partners  rape victim The ideal time period to start PEP is within  hours from exposure, although it has been shown to be useful up to  hours post-exposure.
HIV PEP should be started as soon as possible after exposure up to  hours. The earlier HIV PEP is started, the more effective it is in preventing HIV transmission and infection.

How long to take HIV PEP for? What is the treatment regime?

HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) should be taken every day and continued for  month. It involves a antiretroviral (ARV) drug combination of  prescription HIV medications.  What are the side effects of HIV PEP? We use the latest generation of antiretroviral drugs which are much post exposure prophylaxis better tolerated than older generation PEP drugs with minimal side effects. Older generation PEP medications tend to cause nausea, diarrhea, fatigue or malaise. Rarely, there may be blood abnormalities which should resolve after the medications are stopped or completed. What to do before starting HIV PEP? Prior to starting HIV PEP, baseline blood tests will be done to make sure that your blood count, liver and kidneys are functioning normally and that your HIV status is currently negative. What to do while on HIV PEP? While on HIV PEP, do not take any other medications without first consulting the doctor. Do not stop the HIV PEP without first consulting the doctor. If you cannot tolerate the side effects, return to consult the doctor. What to do after HIV PEP? After  month of medications, follow-up blood tests will be done to make sure that your blood count, liver and kidneys are functioning normally. A HIV test will be done at  month post-exposure anmonth post-exposure.

Other HIV screening tests can also be done at  days and  days post-exposure. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking medicine to prevent HIV after a possible exposure. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within  hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. This section answers some of the most common questions about PEP. You can also download PEP materials to share. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may stop you developing an HIV infection if you’ve been exposed to the virus. However, it doesn’t always work. You may have been exposed to HIV if you’ve: had unprotected sex (without using a condom) had sex with someone with HIV and the condom broke been injured with an HIV-infected needle What is PEP? PEP is a course of anti-HIV medication. You must start the treatment as soon as possible after you’ve been exposed to HIV, ideally within a few hours. The medicines must be taken every day for  days ( weeks).

PEP is unlikely to work if it’s started after days ( hours) and it won’t usually be prescribed after this time. It is best to start taking PEP within  day ( hours) of being exposed to HIV. PEP makes infection with HIV less likely. However, it’s not a cure for HIV and it doesn’t work in all cases. Also, the treatment may not work if you: take the medicines incorrectly don’t start taking the medicines soon enoughwhether you had oral, vaginal or anal sex whether the other person definitely had HIV – and if known, what was their “viral load” If a doctor decides you are not at risk of having HIV from your answers they will not prescribe PEP.You may also consider testing for other sexually transmitted infections at  days and days post exposure. We provide STD testing, screening and STD treatment services. For an HIV-negative person who, in the last hours had been: Had been exposed to blood or potentially infectious fluids (for example, if the condom broke, or had unprotected anal or vaginal sex) from: an HIV-positive person a person in a high risk group (commercial sex worker, IV drug user, men who have sex with men/bisexual men) being sexually assaulted Had shared contaminated needles and syringes These are all examples of high risk exposure and PEP is recommended to prevent getting HIV and AIDS. Talk to a doctor about PEP right away.

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