Sunday, November 09, 2008

The United Arab Emirates’ health ministry has approved the dispensing of eight antiretroviral drugs for HIV postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) across the country, officials said recently. The drugs, if taken within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, can reduce the chances of HIV infection by about 79%.

PEP will be available only with a prescription and recommendation by health officials or the health ministry.

“PEP is not 100% effective; it cannot guarantee that exposure to HIV will not become a case of HIV infection,” Farida Al Hosani, senior regional officer for public health and policies at the health authority of Abu Dhabi, said recently at a three-day AIDS workshop.

“We receive reports about the condition from people who had unsafe sex,” Al Hosani said. A person who believes they have been exposed to HIV “should instantly contact us and we may give them antiretrovirals to help reduce the chances” of infection, she said.