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World AIDS Day 2017: What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV?

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can protect against HIV infection.

If you have unprotected sex, then getting tested after 3 months or before 6 months is the most effective way to know about HIV status. While early diagnosis and early treatment is the key to deal with HIV, there's one more option to treat HIV infection at its early stage. This is known as post-exposure prophylaxis. Dr V Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation explains in detail about post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and HIV

If a person had unprotected sex and are quickly aware of the risk after a day or two, then you can lower your risk of suffering from AIDS. So if you suspect that someone you had sex with is suffering from HIV infection (HIV-positive), then you can undergo the necessary tests and diagnosis for HIV/AIDS. And if the results are positive, then you can go for the ART (Antiretroviral therapy). However, the treatment is highly effective if started within 48 - 72 hours of having unprotected sex. If you take the course of post-exposure prophylaxis within this period you have a high chance of staying protecting against the HIV infection. post-exposure prophylaxis is nothing but medications for the HIV, which are usually given for a period of 28 days. PEP is highly recommended for people with this kind of exposure, especially sex workers, homosexual and other high-risk individuals.

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Eligibility for PEP

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) HIV public guidelines, post-exposure prophylaxis should be offered to all people with potential exposure for HIV transmission and initiated at the earliest (within 72 hours). Other things that are considered is the background and local epidemiological factors and exposure to bodily fluids (blood, blood-stained saliva, breast milk, genital secretions and other bodily fluids). If you are an HIV positive person and exposed to the HIV virus or if the source is HIV negative, then PEP is not recommended. Also, exposure to bodily fluids such as tears, urine, sweat and non-blood stained saliva does not require PEP. Also read about factors that increase your risk for HIV.

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