Everyone who can be infected by HIV should know about Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP. PEP is a course of medications that can prevent the infection of HIV into the body’s immune system, thereby saving the patient from a lifetime’s worth of medications. HIV PEP is available at HIV clinics in Singapore. Before you rush to your nearest STD clinic asking for a course of PEP, here are a few important things for you to take note.
- PEP should only be used if you suspect that you might have had a sexual encounter with someone who has HIV. It is ineffective for other types of STDs.
In essence, PEP is only effective if you have a chance of contracting HIV, since it is ineffective against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You should only be taking PEP if there is a possible HIV infection, i.e. if a condom tore during penetrative sex or if no protection was used. Typically, HIV does not transfer through oral sex, though other STDs might. When you visit an STD clinic in Singapore, the STD doctor will be able to better advise if it is appropriate for you to be taking HIV PEP.
- PEP is not 100% effective against all HIV infections and should only be relied on as an emergency measure.
Studies have shown that not all PEP treatments on patients are fully effective. There is a small chance that a patient who undergoes the PEP course of medications is still HIV positive. As such, PEP should not be relied on as a failsafe measure. Instead, only use PEP during true emergencies. PEP is not guaranteed to prevent HIV infection. PEP will also get less and less effective against the virus each time you use it.
- HIV PEP can only be taken up to 72 hours after the possible exposure.
Because of how HIV infects the body, PEP is only effective up to 72 hours after exposure. Laboratory tests and overseas studies have concluded that PEP cannot be used more than 72 hours after the possible exposure. In the event that 72 hours have passed, your STD doctor will likely recommend you come back for a rapid HIV test after a few weeks to confirm your status. In addition, PEP gets less and less effective the longer you wait to start the treatment. It is thus very important for you to start on PEP as soon as possible.
- PEP may cause mild side effects when you take it.
As with most medications, there is a possibility that PEP may cause mild side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and fatigue. During the course of the medication, these side effects may come and go. For most patients, they would only last a few days. Please note that these are temporary and may be treated with other forms of medication. Do consult your STD doctor on what you can do if any of these effects occur.
PEP is an important medication in the fight against HIV. As a patient, it is important for you to note these few points in order to ensure you are using the medicines correctly. For more information on HIV PEP or to book an appointment to see an STD doctor.