What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)?
It is a short regimen of anti-retroviral medicines (ART) given to a patient after he has been potentially exposed to HIV to prevent him from becoming infected.
It is sometimes called the “morning after pill for HIV”
Who should take PEP?
- a) Had sex with a HIV positive partner or someone whose HIV status is unknown.
b)Injected drugs and shared equipment such as needles or syringes with others.
- c) Slept with anyone who has any of the risk factors above or whose history you are unsure off.
- d) Other factors that increase your risk of HIV includes unprotected anal sex, presence of blood after intercourse, presence of cuts, presence of ulcers or other sexually transmitted infections in either partner, and unprotected intercourse with a high risk partner (Multiple partners).
If in doubt about your risk please consult our doctors.
When must the PEP regimen be initiated? Can i take it if my exposure was 1 week ago?
The PEP is only effective if taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner you iniate the regimen the more effective it is. In other words, every hour counts. If your exposure is more than 72 hours, PEP won’t be beneficial to you.
What is the PEP regimen like?
The PEP regimen consists of consuming ART medicine for 28 days. Depending on the combination of ART given, you’ll need to take it once or twice daily.
How effective is PEP?
PEP is very effective at preventing HIV when administered correctly and no doses are missed. However, it is not 100%. The earlier you start the regimen the more effective it is. Please remember, this only prevents you from getting HIV and you should get tested for other sexually transmitted infections.
Is PEP safe? Are there any side effects?
PEP is relatively safe. Most patient do not experience any side effects and feel like they are consuming supplements. When they do present with side effects, the most common symptoms are nausea and diarrhoea. The doctor will perform some blood tests before you start your PEP regimen to make sure you are not at risk for other uncommon and serious side effects.
Is taking PEP often after every potential exposure safe?
PEP should only be taken in emergency situations within 72 hours after a recent exposure to HIV. This regimen is not an alternative to other proven HIV prevention methods. If you are sexually active regularly and usually fall under the high risk category, you may consider Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
When on PEP, what steps should i take to maintain the effectives of PEP?
- Follow the instructions given by the doctor, especially the dosing schedule.
- You should limit the use of drugs and alcohol that may interfere with your compliance to the regimen.
- Do not stop taking the tablets without consult your doctor. If you have any side effects, contact your doctor as soon as possible
- If you missed a dose, ask your doctor ahead of time.
- When travelling, make sure you don’t forget to bring your PEP drugs with you.
- You should set reminders on your phone or computer to remind you to take your medications.
- Make sure you return to see your doctor after you have completed your PEP regimen. As it is not 100% effective, it is important to make sure the PEP worked after all the effort made.