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Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Questions

What is Post-Exposure Prophylaxis?

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is known for individuals who take anti-HIV medications quickly after being exposed to HIV. This procedure is done in order to reduce the risk of becoming positive for HIV. There are two different types of PEP. These types include:
1. Occupational PEP- this is taken when someone is in the health field and is working with HIV infected material
2. Non-occupational PEP- this is taken when someone has been exposed to HIV outside of their work

In order for PEP to be completely effective, someone would need to begin this medication 72 hours before being exposed. These medications include 2-3 antiretroviral medications that are taken for 28 days.

When PEP is needed for HIV exposure, this can cause many questions. Read below where frequently asked questions have been answered by Experts.

Would post-exposure prophylaxis be needed following a needle stick injury?

Needle stick injuries that involve blood contamination with HIV can occur in 3 out of 1,000 injuries. This could mean that 997 out of 1000 injuries do not lead to an infection. Someone would need to consult with an HIV specialist to know the risk based level of exposure and also to find out if Post-Exposure Prophylaxis is needed. Also, a recheck of the HIV status will be needed and will be decided upon by a doctor.

What should someone do following unprotected sexual intercourse with an unknown HIV status individual?

After someone has had unprotected sexual intercourse with an unknown HIV individual, medical care will be needed immediately. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis medications can help prevent HIV if given within 72 hours of exposure. These medications may not work after 72 hours. Along with HIV, the individual will need to be tested for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis. Also, a repeat of the HIV test will be needed three months following exposure. Someone will be actively converting into HIV if flu like symptoms occurs as well as diarrhea or a rash. Some people will convert to HIV and be asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms occur).

When should post-exposure prophylaxis be started?

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis should be started within house of the exposure. This is considered a short term antiretroviral treatment. this treatment should not be started after 72 hours of being exposed. It is most effective after an hour of exposure. Also, this treatment can last up to four weeks.

Do post-exposure prophylaxis work?

A study performed on individuals showed a 79% reduction in HIV infections in individuals that underwent Post-Exposure Prophylaxis treatment. A problem with the medications is the adherence to the treatment. The HIV medications could have unpleasant side effects. Individuals may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when they undergo the treatment. Some individuals may stop taking the medications because of the side effect before the course has been completed.

Would post-exposure prophylaxis be needed for contact with undetected HIV viral load blood?

The risk of transmission may be negligible if an individual’s undetectable. A medical practitioner may advise the use of post-exposure prophylaxis medications. Therefore there may be a need for a consultation with a medical practitioner for the proper prescriptions.

These medications can help reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. PEP may be needed following a needle stick injury with HIV contaminated blood. When someone has unprotected intercourse there can be a risk of HIV infection and medication will be needed. For more information individuals can ask the Experts.
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