scared man with fingers in mouth

Can ARVs be used as PEP?

I am afraid I may have been exposed to HIV after a night of unprotected sex. My roommate is openly living with HIV and is on ARVs. Can I take some of his ARVs to prevent HIV?

First, it is not right to take someone’s medicines since they are supposed to take the dosage as prescribed and sharing could affect effective treatment on the part of your roommate.

Second, that’s a good question but first, it is important to understand what PEP and ARVs are and their use.

Antiretrovirals (ARVs) drugs are taken by people who are HIV-positive to lower the HIV in the body. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) are specific HIV medicines taken after possible exposure to HIV. Certain antiretroviral drugs are taken (or administered) as PEP. PEP is taken by people who are HIV-negative or those unsure about their HIV status.

PEP lowers the risk of HIV transmission by preventing the virus from becoming an infection. It is recommended to get on PEP within 72 hours after possible exposure to HIV. If you fear you’ve been exposed, you should act quickly for the best chance of HIV prevention. PEP is taken for 28 days. It is important to visit a healthcare facility to get the recommended type and dose since the PEP is administered differently for different people. For example, pregnant women may be directed to take different PEP from those who are not.

Antiretroviral (ARV), on the other hand, is used to treat HIV. They are taken by people who are already HIV positive. They do not totally ‘kill’ or ‘destroy’ the HIV but rather prevent the virus from multiplying and expanding in your body. By efficiently controlling viral load and targeting distinct stages of the HIV life cycle, ARVs enable people living with HIV to manage their infection and have better lives when they stick to treatment routines.

ARVs are, therefore, important for HIV management, while PEP is important for preventing infection after possible exposure. PEP should not be used in place of ARVs and vice versa.  

For the best results and patient safety, every drug is designed to work exactly as directed by the manufacturer. Following these instructions reduces the possibility of adverse effects and ensures that the medication is effective at the recommended dosage.

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LoveMatters Africa

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