Tips for Thought

Immediate Steps to Take After HIV Exposure

Unprotected sex comes with many risks, one of which is contracting HIV. Other ways in which people can contract the Human Immunodeficiency virus is through sharing infected drug paraphernalia or bodily fluids. HIV is a permanent condition that requires constant care. Nevertheless, there is a new way to treat possible exposure immediately. Here’s what you need to know about post-exposure prophylaxis:

What Is PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis)?

Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is an emergency intervention for people who suspect they have been exposed to HIV.

What Happens During Pep?

PEP involves clients taking anti-HIV drugs after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent contracting the virus. PEP must be given within 72 hours (or three days) after potential exposure to HIV, or else it will not work.

Who Is Eligible for PEP?

If you are HIV-negative or do not know your status and suspect you may be exposed, then you are eligible to start the short-course treatment asap.

Other instances where you may need PEP include:

  • You are sexually active (This includes having sex with a person who has an unknown HIV status, when a condom broke during sex, or if your sexual partner is a person with HIV that is not suppressed);
  • You have shared infected needles, syringes, and other drug-sharing paraphernalia; or
  • You’ve just been sexually assaulted

How Do I Get PEP? 

Suppose you meet any of the criteria above. In that case, the first thing you need to do is contact your healthcare provider immediately. Alternatively, you must go to an emergency room or clinic urgently.

After meeting with your healthcare provider, they may screen you for possible medications for PEP. If prescribed PEP, you must take medicine every day for at least 28 days. In addition, your healthcare provider may ask for updates or additional testing after the short-term course.

Is PEP Safe?

PEP is an effective emergency solution for individuals exposed to HIV. However, individuals must follow instructions clearly to get the most out of the treatment. Ideally, the sooner you go to the emergency room, the better because time is of the essence.

Nevertheless, some medications used in PEP may cause side effects like nausea. Be honest with your healthcare provider about other drugs or medicines you may use for any drug interactions.

Some Important Things to Note About PEP:

PEP is only used in emergencies. It is not a substitute for other HIV prevention techniques. If you are frequently exposed to HIV, ask your doctor for PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Takeaway: PEP is an emergency solution for persons who believe they may have contracted HIV. While emergency treatment is available, your best bet is always to use protection. If you have an issue with drug addiction, please seek help immediately to lessen your risks of contracting HIV. Stay safe.