The thought of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be quite frightening. After all, we know HIV to be a virus that stays in the body for life, with no cure available. HIV is primarily contracted through unprotected penetrative sexual encounters, regardless of the gender of the partner. While actively using protection will reduce the chances of contracting HIV, it is possible that some accidents may happen during sexual encounters, such as a condom breaking. When such accidents occur, it is important to know what you can do to prevent an HIV infection. In these instances, you may want to consider visiting an HIV clinic in Singapore to take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a type of medication that is able to prevent the virus from fully infecting the body. This article will explain what steps you need to take if you think you have contracted the virus.
Step 1: Assess the risk
Before prescribing PEP, most doctors will assess the risk that a patient has contracted HIV. Doctors will typically advise against patients taking PEP if their risk is very low. Such instances may include when patients only had oral sex or no sex at all. Doctors do not recommend taking PEP if there is no risk of contracting HIV as the body is able to build up resistance to PEP over time. You should only see a doctor for HIV PEP if you have moderate to high risk. Typically, that is when there is unprotected anal or vaginal sex for more than five minutes. Do note that PEP should only be used as an emergency measure against HIV and should not replace appropriate condom use.
Step 2: Visiting an HIV clinic or A&E Department
In order to gain access to PEP, you must have it prescribed by a doctor. The medicine is available at the Accident & Emergency Department at public hospitals. However, if you are worried about having a mark on your public hospital records, you could instead visit an HIV clinic. These are independent clinics in which doctors are able to prescribe you PEP. Do note, however, that PEP is only effective within 72 hours after the potential exposure and that its effectiveness is reduced as time passes after the exposure. As such, it could be wise to visit the hospital immediately after the potential exposure.
Step 3: Taking the medication as prescribed by the doctor
To ensure the full effectiveness of PEP, all patients should take the medicine exactly as prescribed by the doctor. PEP usually consists of a series of drugs to be taken for approximately a month after exposure. Because PEP is not always effective, following the doctor’s prescription exactly is crucial in ensuring the medication is as effective as possible. Do note that after taking PEP, you will also need to attend follow-up appointments with the doctor at the STD clinic, who will then screen you for HIV to see whether the drug has been effective.
PEP is a medicine that can work in any potential exposures to HIV.