The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted infection that causes the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome disease, commonly known as AIDS. The virus is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex or through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected individual.
At the time of writing of this article, HIV cannot be cured. Patients infected with HIV must diligently take medication to delay the onset of AIDS.
Patients may get infected with HIV when the necessary precautions taken do not work, such as a condom breaking. In such situations, a Singapore HIV clinic, recommends taking Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
PEP is a treatment that can prevent the infection of HIV, for individuals who think they are exposed to the virus. Such situations may include the breaking of a condom, the sharing of needles and rape or assault cases.
In these situations, PEP should be started within 72 hours from the point of exposure – the earlier it is started, the higher the chance of suppressing HIV.
The treatment works by taking a four-week long course of anti-retroviral medicines (ARV). Typically, a patient would need to take three of such medicines in order to help the body build up its immune system in their fight against HIV. The drugs are to be taken once or twice daily over a period of 28 days.
It is also important to note that PEP may not be 100% effective in preventing HIV. There have been recorded cases of patients who still contract HIV after the PEP treatment. However, patients are still strongly advised to take PEP if they think they have been exposed.
While PEP is completely safe to take, patients may experience side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea or nausea. The severity of these side effects range from individual to individual, as bodies respond to the drugs differently. However, these side effects are not life threatening, and might be taken with other courses of medication. Individuals should not be deterred from taking PEP due to these side effects.
PEP is usually prescribed only be taken in emergency situations. The patient should get into the habit of infection prevention with condoms, instead of relying on such emergency measures as a way of life.
Patients taking PEP should also undergo regular HIV testing in Singapore during and after their treatment, to ensure that the treatment has worked.
Patients who wish to undergo PEP treatments will first have a consultation with their doctor. Consultations with doctors at STD clinics in Singapore will help patients better understand their treatment. When consulting with a doctor on PEP, they will recommend different ARV medicines, depending on your medical background and other possible concerns. Baseline health screenings will be conducted to ensure a patient’s suitability for their treatment.
It is recommended patients bring up any other issues they might face over the course of taking PEP to their doctors.