5 Things You NEED To Know About The HIV ‘Morning-After Pill’
By Hasan Variawa; image from Freepik.com
Like, it’ll only work in the first 72 hours…
Woke up wondering what the hell happened last night? How could you forget the condom? How many drinks did you actually have? While it’s not an ideal situation, we’re all human… and we make mistakes.
Whether it was the above party-spiral scenario, an innocent heat of the moment thing or a broken condom (yes, they can break!), shove the embarrassment aside and get to a doctor – because there’s a pill for that.
Kinda like the morning-after pill (just a little more of a process), Post Exposure Prophylaxes (PEP) is an oral medication you’ll need to take for 28 days after exposure to HIV. And it’s 80 percent effective in preventing infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). So what about the other 20 percent? Some people don’t take PEP properly, or the virus they’re exposed to is resistant to PEP meds.
Wait, can the meds help you if you’ve already got HIV?
Unfortunately not. This is purely a preventative pill. “PEP pills are not a cure for people who already have HIV infection, but rather an attempted prevention once exposure has occurred,” says HIV researcher and director of the PHRU Vaccine Research Centre, Dr Fatima Laher.
5 facts you need to know
1. You can ask your doctor for PEP after you’ve been exposed or think you’ve been exposed, and can request that it be kept private.
2. You can only take PEP within 72 hours of the possible exposure for it to be effective. It will not work after 72 hours.
3. PEP is always taken for one month, every single day. The less you take it, the less chance they have of working.
4. Usually an HIV test is done before PEP to make sure you don’t already have the virus.
5. After PEP, it’s not over. You must follow up with an HIV test.
According to Laher, if you’re receiving an HIV test done through the fourth generation ELISA test method (ask the doc!), you should be tested at around six weeks after exposure, then again at the four-month mark to cover the window period (the time when a test could be negative even though there is HIV infection in the body).
“These drugs have an amazing success rate, and they’re available in both public and private sectors, but not enough people know to use them. If you think you’ve been exposed, don’t wait around hoping you won’t get infected – take the power back into your hands by asking for PEP,” she says.
Concluding with condoms…
Be wise guys… You know the vibe. You have the right to insist he wears a condom. But ignore your mates’ “double wrapping” advice (using two condoms as an extra precaution) – the friction is actually more likely to lead to a break, increasing your risk of infection. One condom should get the job done, and if something still goes wrong, now you know what to do.
This information was originally published on www.mh.co.za