Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment taken soon after a person has been exposed to an infective source in order to prevent an infection from occurring. For instance if someone is exposed to the HI virus, either by having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive or through certain types of contact with infected blood, then an immediate course of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can be taken to prevent HIV disease from developing. This treatment, which is called HIV PEP or PEP for short, must be taken for four weeks and will only be effective if it is started within 72 hours (three days) of the exposure.
Exposure in the workplace
Healthcare workers can be exposed to the HI virus when looking after HIV-positive people through the following situations:
Needle stick injuries
These can accidentally occur when blood is being withdrawn or when injections are being given or drips set up. Infected blood can then pass directly from inside the needle (which is hollow) into the injured healthcare worker. The overall risk of contracting HIV through a needle stick injury is about 1 in 300. This means that for every 300 people who have needle-stick injuries only one will become HIV-positive.
- Next >>