Post exposure prophylaxis

Have you ever heard of PEP or Post Exposure Prophylaxis?

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis, which is medicine that you take after you have been exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to reduce your chances of being infected. It includes taking a four-week course of HIV-treatment medications as soon as possible after a person has been exposed to the virus. It is only meant to be used in an emergency, not as a routine technique to prevent HIV transmission. Hence, it is best to start PEP within 24 hours, but certainly within 72 hours.

When is PEP taken?

PEP is used by people who are exposed to HIV-infected blood and/or body fluids in the workplace, such as healthcare workers who have accidental need-stick injury. It is also used after a potentially high-risk HIV exposure such as unprotected sex, a condom breaking during sexual intercourse, sexual assault or sharing needles used to inject drugs. Therefore, in case you are found in any of these circumstances, do not waste time, rush to any nearby health facility and explain your situation so that PEP is given to you.

Is PEP an alternative to other prevention methods?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), condoms, and using a new needle for each injection are all highly effective preventative strategies that should not be replaced by PEP. PEP should only be used in emergency situations and not as a long-term HIV prevention approach. Therefore, if you are exposed to HIV a lot, for example, in cases of multiple sex partners, talk with your physician about PrEP. That is the HIV preventive approach in which people who do not have HIV take antiretroviral medication to lower their risk of contracting the infection if they are exposed to it.

What is the way forward?

Spread the news to friends and family about the importance of taking PEP after exposure to HIV virus. #Meet your Pharmacist #Talk to your Pharmacist.

This article was contributed by Christabel Hikaambo-Mwila. Send comment to: phirimclaw@gmail.com.

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