How PEP and PrEP can help you in the workplace

Certain occupations can you put you at a higher risk of exposure to  (HIV). Most of the time, HIV exposure is associated with the health industry, but there are many other occupations that can put you at risk, too.Most work that involves physical labour and machinery, such as construction work, factory work, and municipal work, poses a risk of injury. Helping a fellow worker who is bleeding increases the risk of exposure to HIV.

Even in health care, it is not only those dealing directly with patients who are at risk of exposure. Other hospital and clinic workers, such as cleaners, laundry workers, and laboratory staff, also have to handle body fluids.

These kinds of occupations relate to the third most common way of contracting HIV, which is when the HIV-transmittable fluid of an HIV-infected person gets into the bloodstream of someone else. This includes needle-stick injuries (risk is less than 1%), or a puncture or cut coming into contact with HIV-infected body fluid (0.1%).

Body fluids that are “clear”, such as tears, saliva, sweat, and urine, contain little or no HIV (unless contaminated with blood, of course).

PrEP and PEP

Both PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) are treatments given to HIV-negative people as a protection against being infected with HIV.

PrEP is a prevention treatment option for those who are continuously at a high risk of being infected by HIV, which includes occupations that involve working with people that are HIV positive, or materials that may be contaminated with HIV-positive body fluids.

PrEP medication is used on an ongoing, daily basis.

PEP treatment is started as soon as possible after a possible high-risk HIV-infection incident (no later than 72 hours after the event). In fact, the sooner the course begins, the more effective the treatment will be.

A PEP treatment lasts for 28-days, and those taking it have to be carefully monitored and need to go for tests after one week, four weeks, 16 weeks and again in 30 weeks.

[World Aids Day takes place on 1 December every year in support of people living with AIDS.]

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