POST EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS

Credit: Pexel

Have you ever been accidentally exposed to an infection in the past and received medication to prevent you from getting the same infection? 

The option you were given was a Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.

WHAT IS A POST-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS?
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) refers to medical treatment that are taken after exposure to an infectious agent such as HIV, Hepatitis or Rabies virus. PEP is usually given to rape victims, healthcare workers or people that are exposed accidentally to contagious diseases due to their occupation.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis following accidental exposure to HIV is the most common. It is taken shortly after apotential exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from establishing itself in the body. 

PEP medications are drugs you take immediately you suspect or think you have been exposed to HIV. 

It is taken within 72 hours; the earlier taken the better the efficacy. The treatment last for 28 days and strict adherence is emphasized for maximum efficacy. 

HOW DOES PEP WORK?
PEP works by interfering with the first stage of HIV replication which is known as seroconversion stage. When HIV enters the body, it takes some time for the virus to establish itself. PEP medication, typically a combination of antiretroviral drugs, disrupts this process, significantly reducing the risk of infection. The medications stop progression of the infection into the latent stage. 

Care must be taken as these drugs are not meant for people that had already been diagnosed with HIV. 

It is also not prescribed for people that have an ongoing risk of exposure to HIV due to their occupation, as an alternative treatment known as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is prescribed instead.

PEP medication can cause side effects like nausea, fatigue, and headache. These are usually mild and subside in a short period of time.

When should PEP be used?
- After unsafe sex with partner with unknown or established HIV status
- After sharing needles or other sharp objects 
- Immediately after rape
- After exposure to HIV at work (occupational exposure)

Kemuel Kefas

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