METHODS OF HIV/AIDS PREVENTION (Post-exposure)
In the last post, we talked about the stages of HIV/AIDS and its symptoms. Today we’ll be talking about methods of Hiv/Aids prevention even when you’ve very recently had a sexual encounter with a possibly HIV positive partner. In the event that a condom breaks during sex or you are sexually assaulted there is medicine you can take to prevent getting HIV after a recent exposure. Talk to your health care provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider right away about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
· PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure.
· The sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts.
· If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it daily for 28 days.
What is PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis)
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 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If taken within 72 hours after possible exposure, PEP is highly effective in preventing HIV. But to be safe, you should take other actions to protect your partners while you are taking PEP. This includes always using condoms with sexual partners and not sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs. PEP is unlikely to work if it's started after 3 days (72 hours) and it won't usually be prescribed after this time. It is best to start taking PEP within 1 day (24 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 enough
What are the side effects of PEP?
PEP can cause side effects in some people, such as:
· feeling generally unwell
They usually start to get better as you keep taking PEP.
PEP and HIV tests
You'll be asked to take an HIV test before starting PEP treatment, to check whether you already have HIV. If you don't agree to an HIV test, you won't be given PEP. You'll also need an HIV test after the treatment, to check that it's been successful. When you request to have PEP, you'll be asked some questions, such as:
• who you had sex with, to assess your risk of exposure to HIV
• whether 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.
PEP is for Emergency Situations
• PEP is given after a possible exposure to HIV.
• PEP is not a substitute for regular use of other HIV prevention.
• PEP is not the right choice for people who may be exposed to HIV frequently.
• If you are at ongoing risk for HIV, such as through repeated exposures to HIV, talk to your health care provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Where can I get PEP?
PEP is only available on prescription. You can get PEP from:
· a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic
· an HIV clinic
· an A&E department of a hospital
· However, PEP may not be available in all areas of Nigeria.
In conclusion; HIV can't be cured. Don't rely on PEP to prevent HIV, because it doesn't always work. Just as post-pills don’t always prevent pregnancies. Using a condom is the best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.