If you have gone off the bender recently and got sexually active with a new partner whose status you were unaware of, worry not. If you were unfortunate to be sexually assaulted, do not despair. If you shared syringes and other drug preparation instruments, this is for you.
I bet you have more than a few questions on this magic pill. We have you covered! Here are the basic pointers you need to know all about it.
What exactly is PEP?
This is a form of antiretroviral drug that you can take after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent you from being infected. It is effective when administered correctly, but not totally 100%.
HIV PEP should strictly be administered within 72 hours after exposure, and the sooner you start the better. Like a ticking time bomb, every hour is crucial. Once prescribed, you need to take it once or twice daily for 28 days.
Who is PEP for?
It is basically recommended if you are HIV- or unaware of your status and have been exposed to the virus in the last 72 hours:
- May have had sex with a HIV+ person
- Have been sexually assaulted
- Shared syringes and other instruments used to prepare drugs
Seek a doctor’s assistance immediately after any of these. Note that it is an emergency treatment option, not a substitute for other prevention methods such as abstinence, condoms and even HIV PrEP.
Should a Health care worker who has been exposed to the virus at work take the drug?
Occupational transmission is rare, with all the safety devices and barriers enforced. However, a worker that has had potential exposure should immediately see a doctor or visit a STD clinic immediately.
When should you take PEP?
For the most optimum results, you must begin taking PEP before 72 hours are over after possible exposure. The faster you get started, the higher the efficiency of the drug.
Research indicates that after this timeline, the treatment has little to no effect in preventing HIV infection. If prescribed, you need to be on the medication for 28 days.
Are there any side-effects?
Everyone reacts differently to medication. Some people might experience nausea. But worry not, it is not life-threatening and can easily be treated.
Where to get PEP
A STD clinic in Singapore like Shim Clinic can prescribe the treatment. Just be sure to see them right away after exposure.
Should you take PEP every time you have unprotected sex?
Simply put, no. If you are continually at high risk of exposure, take Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) instead – this treatment must be applied before intercourse. With PEP, more drugs and higher doses are needed to block infection. This is not an ideal continuous treatment regime.
So, now you know a few things about PEP. Exposed to risk? Get on the treatment immediately. Remember, the timeline is everything.