Do you know there’s a “Morning After” pill that protects you against HIV?
Yes, you heard me right.
It’s called HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
How Post Exposure Prophylaxis Works
If you are a rape victim or you just had a very risky unprotected sex and you don’t want to get HIV, go to a hospital.
It has to be within 72 hours of the exposure, be it unprotected sexual intercourse or sharing of needle with an infected person.
What is Post Exposure Prophylaxis PEP ?
Post Exposure Prophylaxis PEP, stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It means the act of taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after engaging in an activity (like unprotected sex, sharing needles etc) that can potentially expose a person to HIV.
The aim of this medication is to prevent becoming infected by early treatment.
Who Should Take PEP?
You should go to a hospital and speak with a doctor about having PEP if you:
had unprotected sex with a vey high risk person like a prostitute or with someone who already has HIV.
When you are raped.
Or you got pricked with an HIV infected needle or while sharing needles.
Or when you get in contact with blood while helping accident victims without hand gloves.
How To Take a PEP Medication?
The PEP is NOT a one-off medication.
It is a course of anti HIV medication.
You should start the treatment as recommended by a doctor immediately if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, ideally within a few hours.
The medicines should be taken on a daily basis for 28 days.
When Is The Best Time To Start a PEP?
The earlier the better.
The faster the more effective.
Most ideally within 24 hours of being exposed to HIV. But latest time, it must be within 72 hours of the exposure.
PEP is unlikely to work after 3 days.
So most doctors won’t give it to you.
Does PEP guarantee 100% That a Person Will Not Get HIV?
NO. It does not.
However it reduces the risk and likelihood that a person may develop the infection.
It makes Infection with HIV less likely.
Almost like how contraceptives works, it doesn’t guarantee not getting pregnant but it will greatly reduce the chances.
Is There Anything That Can Make a PEP Fail To Work?
The PEP may not work properly if you;
- Take the medicines incorrectly
- Take the medicines after 72 hours
- Don’t finish the course for 28 days
- Continue to have unprotected sex with HIV infected persons or keep getting reinfected.
Where Can I Get PEP From?
Sexual Health Clinics, HIV Clinics.
Accident and Emergency Units at Government owned hospitals.
You should be able to get it from any reputable hospital.
All you need do is walk in and speak to a doctor. If they don’t have it, he or she can point you in the right direction to how to get it.
Do The Doctors Ask Questions Before Prescribing The PEP or Is It Automatic?
It’s NOT automatic.
Doctors may ask about;
Are you a rape victim?
who you had sex with, to assess the degree of risk (higher if with a prostitute or known HIV carrier)
whether it was oral, vaginal or anal sex ( the risk is highest with anal)
The doctor may also ask about timing.
“How long ago was the sex or the event?”
If it is more than 72 hours, PEP will not be not effective and may not be prescribed by the doctor as it is deemed useless.
Doctors ask this questions because PEPs are anti HIV medications that are quite serious.
What Are The Side Effects Of Post Exposure Prophylaxis ?
Different people cope differently with the medicines. However some people report nausea, vomiting, headache, tiredness etc. Some people say it can be very exhausting.
However, this usually starts to get better as you keep taking the PEP.
You may be asked to take a HIV test before starting the treatment, its to be sure whether you already have HIV before the event without been aware .
And you may also need to do n HIV test after completing the PEP just to be sure of what your status is.
PEP is an “emergency” medication.
It’s NOT a method of “routine” HIV Prevention.
It’s mainly for unexpected situations where people get pricked with HIV infected needles or have unprotected sex with an HIV person (or condom breaks) etc
PEP is not a substitute for safe sex.
Don’t gamble with your life.
If you have regular sex, practise safe sex.
If you have done something risky, it’s better to have a PEP (for a month) than ignore and develop HIV later and need to use medicines for years maybe.
PEP side effects aren’t life threatening.
Overall I hope this information has opened your eyes to something you probably haven’t heard about before now. Or you have, but not known in this way.
Or you know already and it was a good reminder.
Whichever way, thanks for reading.
Also remember to SHARE this information with your friends or loved ones. Do not forget to drop a comment ….Thanks.