POST EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PEP)
This is a very effective way of preventing establishment of HIV in individuals who may have been exposed to the virus recently. If taken within the recommended time frame, it can help prevent HIV in up to 80 to 96% of times.
WHAT IS EXPOSURE?
- Sexual assault (especially, where the status of the attacker cannot be determined)
- Unprotected casual sex (no condom) where the partner’s sexual history and HIV status, is not known
- Sharing of needles
- Use of unsterilized sharp objects…with cuts
- Needle or muco-cuteanous exposure in health personnel
- Condom break during casual sex
WHAT IS THE TIME FRAME?
The earlier one can start the recommended PEP, the better. Usually, it is advised to start it within 72 hours of exposure.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- TRUVADA (emtricitabine 200mg and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300mg) Plus ritonavir-boosted lopinavir is the recommended drug (in teens at least 12 years old and weighing 35kg and above) while combination of zidovidune,lamivudine and ritonavir-boosted lopinavir can be used in children. However other anti – retro virals may be prescribed by your doctor if above is not available.
- It can usually be gotten for free in most government hospitals or centers for management of HIV.
- It will likely be prescribed by a doctor. If you are pregnant, have other medical conditions or is taking any drug, tell your doctor before starting these drugs.
- Your base line HIV status, blood level, liver function and renal function tests may be done.
- You will likely be given a drugs for 28 days. Make sure you don’t miss any.
- These drugs will likely have some side effects on your body.
Some minor side effects are; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, bad dreams, insomnia, skin rashes, back pain, headache. These are usually self-limiting and will subside or stop in time.
These major side effects, however, will necessitate visiting your doctor; difficulty breathing, depression and mood changes, loss of appetite, bloody urine, decrease in average amount of urine.
- Due to the expected side effects and tiredness, it’s prudent to explore taking a medical leave throughout or during early period of commencing your drugs.
WHILE TAKING THIS DRUG
PEP does not mean 100% protection from HIV, especially if it’s started late. This means safe sex and other protective measures should continue.
You will be tested for HIV, immediately after,6 weeks, 3 months and then 6 months later. If all these tests come out negative, you have likely been able to evade the virus.
Cheers! Do have a lovely day!!!
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