PEP / PrEP
At Hugsa, we aim to provide the best, most thorough and most efficient care to all our patients no matter their gender, sexuality, race, religion or cultural background, as well as their HIV status. We are a proud ally to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and sex work communities. Our non-judgemental, non-stigmatising approach to our patients means you can feel safe and comfortable in asking us any questions you might have about any health issue.
PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis)
PEP is short for Post Exposure Prophylaxis, meaning it is taken after exposure to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virous), that is when HIV enters someone’s body. If you believe you have been exposed to HIV (which if left untreated can lead to AIDS), PEP may prevent you becoming infected. You are at risk of having contracted HIV or an STI (sexually transmitted infection) if you have had unprotected sex, the condom broke during sex or you have been sharing needles.
PEP is a month-long course of medication that, if taken within 72 hours of the HIV virus entering the body, can potentially prevent a person becoming infected with HIV. The PEP medication is the same medication that people living with the HIV virus use to lower their viral load and reduce its impact on the immune system and body. This is called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
Normally when a person is exposed to HIV, the virus attaches itself to immune cells and uses them to make more HIV. The newly made HIV then spreads and attaches to more immune cells until they can no longer fight off illnesses and infections. The medication helps the immune system stop the virus by preventing it from replicating inside the infected cells. These infected cells gradually die without reproducing more copies of the infected cells, essentially destroying the virus.
PEP is available from Hugsa at any time by simply making an appointment to see one of our specially trained Doctors. The quicker you act by seeing a doctor and starting PEP, the more likely the medication will be able to prevent HIV.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, meaning it is taken prior to exposure to HIV. It is essentially a HIV prevention program that makes use of the same medication as PEP, as well as the same medication used to treat HIV. By taking PrEP, people who are HIV-negative (meaning they do not have HIV) can reduce the chance of contracting HIV by up to 99%. Reputable studies continue to show that not only is this medication effective at treating HIV, but also at preventing HIV when taken every day.
As mentioned above, normally when a person is exposed to HIV, the virus attaches itself to immune cells and uses them to make more HIV. The newly made HIV then spreads and attaches to more immune cells until they can no longer fight off illnesses and infections. PrEP stops this process before it starts, preventing HIV from making more copies of itself and therefore preventing HIV infection.
In order to be effective, there has to be enough PrEP in your body to prevent HIV. If there isn’t enough of the drug in your body then there’s a chance that your level of protection is not maximised. This is why PrEP must be taken every day, to maintain the levels of PrEP in the body.
PrEP is available from Hugsa who are specifically trained at prescribing this medication. One of our Doctors will initially conduct a simple health screening to determine whether PrEP is the best course of action for you, and then discuss the process, potential side effects and cost of the treatment.
PrEP is recommended if you are at higher risk of HIV exposure than the general population. At-risk population groups include:
- Men who have sex with me (MSM)
- Sex workers
- Injecting drug users
It is still advised to wear a condom during sex to further prevent the HIV Virus.
Talking About Sexual Health
At Hugsa, our doctors, nurses and support staff are friendly, discreet and non-judgemental. We understand it can be embarrassing to talk about such private matters, but we are familiar with diagnosing and treating STI’s, so you can feel comfortable talking to us and asking any questions you might have related to your sexual health.
Doctors are legally obliged to keep your personal health information, including your sexual health information private and confidential. If you think you may have an STI, or have recently had unprotected sex, make an appointment now for a non-judgemental consultation and STI / HIV test now.