Although HIV stigma and medical advances has greatly approved over the decades since 1981. Many still have anixety around the virus. Especially after a high risk encounter, you can be left in confusion and fear about the next step. Let’s dive in into some ways you can make the next move!
1. ASSESS THE RISK
Really get to what your level of risk was. Ask yourself did you use condoms, did it break? Do you know your partner’s status? Was there needle sharing involved? Were you exposed to any bodily fluids? Definitely reach out your local non profits or health departments to help you out!
2. GET ON PEP
Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a must in early prevention after a high risk encounter. PEP makes sure HIV can’t attach to immune cells and replicate, thus preventing an infection. Must take it within the first 72 hours after exposure. Take it for 28 days then retest for HIV after and if your doctor feels you need further prevention. They’ll prescribe you PrEP. Which is for ongoing prevention.
3. TAKE THE TEST
Testing for HIV can be a worrying ordeal for some who feel they’ve been exposed but it’s the only way to know your status. If PEP isn’t a option due to timing. There are some early detection options you can take. The earliest test you can take is the Plasma HIV RNA. It can directly detect HIV in your blood stream within the first 11 days after exposure. It will typically take up to 2 business days for your results to be available. It’s highly accurate but costly and regular clinics don’t use that method. The Alere Antibody/ Antigen test can detect HIV within the first 14-28 days post exposure and you get results within 20 minutes. Lastly the Insti Test can detect antibodies within 21-28 days, and you get your results in under 1 minute. The latter two tests are often provided for free at local non profits and health departments.
If you’re at high risk for HIV from drug use to sex. Definitely speak to your doctor and preventive methods to keep you negative. If you’re positive be sure to seek medical assistance. HIV can be a well managed chronic condition and you can still enjoy your life and health as it was.