HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is designed to prevent HIV infection.
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) includes consuming antiretroviral (ARV) medication quickly after suspected exposure to HIV, either via sexual contact or open wounds, within a 72 hour time frame.
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) medication should be initiated as quickly as possible within the 72 hour time frame, in order for it to be effective.
Seek advice from a medical professional immediately upon suspected exposure to HIV. If he or she determines that PEP is the right course of medication for you, you will be recommended to consume 3 or more antiretroviral medication daily for at least 28 days.
POST EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PEP) – What is it?
PEP refers to ‘Post Exposure Prophylaxis’. The term ‘Prophylaxis’ refers to the prevention of a disease or infection, or the protection from it. Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) includes consuming antiretroviral (ARV) as quickly as possible upon suspected exposure to the HIV virus to minimize and prevent the chances of getting HIV infected.
In general, there are two type of PEP:
oPEP refers to ‘Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis’. What this means is when the risk is derived from occupational settings, such as work as a healthcare worker. When a healthcare worker gets suspected exposure to HIV, say via a needle prick injury, he or she will be recommended to consume PEP.
nPEP refers to’Non-Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis’. It is generally consumed and taken when the risk of HIV exposure occurs outside of work settings. For example, if suspected exposure is derived from sexual contact with a partner or via drug abuse injections, the person will be recommended to undergo nPEP medication.
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) – Who is recommended to take PEP?
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) may be recommended when you have been tested for HIV and the results are negative, or when you do not know your HIV status, but within the previous 72 hour time frame you:
suspect you have been exposed to HIV in work settings via any means such as a needle prick injury or contamination of open wounds.
suspect you have been exposed to HIV after sexual contact with a partner
shared injection needles or invasive medical equipment, especially for drug use.
were raped or sexually attacked.
Seek help from a trained medical professional immediately. He or she will advise you on the next course of action, and if PEP is right and necessary in your case.
Take note that PEP is generally meant for emergency situations. It is not designed for common and regular consumption for individuals who gets suspected or confirmed exposure to HIV often.
What should be done if I suspect myself to have been exposed to HIV?
Upon suspect exposure to HIV, you should seek help from a trained medical professional immediately. Trained medical professionals may include personnel from emergency rooms, family clinics, urgent care clinics or your nearest HIV test and treatment clinic, so be sure to visit any of the mentioned centers. Arrange to have a HIV test or any other recommended tests done at the soonest. Your doctor will help determine if you require PEP medication.
HIV POST EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PEP) – When should it be taken?
As much as possible, PEP should be consumed with a 72 hour time frame from the time of suspected exposure (72 hours is also equivalent to 3 days). Based on lab findings, the chances of PEP actually preventing HIV decreases drastically after the 72 hour time frame, so it is always important to exercise urgency upon suspected exposure to HIV.
For how long should HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) be taken?
Your doctor will advise you on the recommended dosage and period you have to continue medication. In general, PEP medication includes consuming 3 or more antiretroviral (ARV) daily for a period of at least 28 days. More often than not you will be asked to return to the clinic / medical center / hospital / test center on a regularly basis during and after your medication course for further HIV testing. Other tests may be arranged as well depending on your medical service provider. Take heed as this is often to ensure you are absolutely clear of HIV infection.
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) – Before Prescription
When meeting with your healthcare service provider, be sure to give him or her a detailed account of how you have been or suspect having been exposed to HIV. Be open and honest about it, with no need to feel shy or embarrassed. More often than not your healthcare service provider would have handled numerous similar cases. Understand that this is a common process and that being responsible for your own health and body is the absolute right thing to do.
A detailed account of suspected exposure is important in helping your healthcare service provider determine the level of risk involved. He or she will then use this information to a large extent to determine the kind of treatment, medication or tests required.
How effective is HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)?
PEP has been lab tested and proven to be effective in HIV prevention when consumed correctly in the right amounts and time frame. While it is not a 100% prevention solution, it drastically reduces the chances of getting infected with HIV, especially when consumed at the soonest within the 72 hour time frame.
It is also important to note that you should always use condoms during sexual contact, when on PEP. The is to protect your partner from possible HIV infection. If you are undergoing drug usage or treatments that include injections, be sure to observe safe medical and injection practices as well.
HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) – Side Effects
The consumption of antiretroviral (ARV) medication in PEP may lead to certain side effects. They are cause some discomfort but are generally not life-threatening. Speak to your healthcare service provider if you observe any side effect(s) that are pronounce and/or persistent.
PEP medication may often interact with other medications that you are taking at the same time. Be sure to inform your healthcare service provider of the other medications you are taking to prevent unsuspecting side effects.
Costs, Risks & More Information
For more information on HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), please visit our dedicated HIV PEP page. Feel free to get in touch with us as well for a no obligation private discussion.
Testing Services at Tanjong Pagar Medical Clinic
Tanjong Pagar Medical Clinic is an approved Anonymous HIV Test Clinic by the Ministry of Health Singapore.
Prevention of HIV – If you have had a recent high risk exposure (less than 72 hours), you may wish to consider HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which may help to prevent HIV transmission and potentially save your life!