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Greater PEP awareness urged
A leading HIV treatment specialist has called for greater awareness of HIV-preventative medication among gay men and in medical centres.
St Vincent’s Hospital nurse consultant and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) service head John McAllister has been prescribing the medication to gay men at risk of contracting HIV since 1999. He said that awareness of PEP in the gay community is only at 64 percent, well short of the ideal of more than 90 percent.
“PEP is very effective at preventing a HIV exposure from becoming an infection if taken within 72 hours after exposure, but the only surefire way to avoid HIV is to use condoms every time,” McAllister said.
While McAllister would only comment on practices at St Vincent’s Hospital, he also recommended that emergency department staff in all hospitals be trained in administering PEP as part of their orientation. McAllister made his comments in response to the Star Observer’s recent reports on gay men being denied treatment in medical centres.