Benefits of HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is commonly used among health care workers and other individuals who believe they have recently been exposed to HIV. PEP can actually prevent HIV infection in some individuals, but according to a report in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, even when PEP fails to prevent the infection it may still have beneficial effects.

The report involved a 38-year old gay man who reported having unprotected anal sex with multiple partners in the previous 48 hours. The patient was treated with Truvada as post-exposure prophylaxis. During his treatment the patient reported more episodes of risky sex, causing his treatment to be extended. During his treatment the patient was repeatedly tested for HIV. He received a couple negative HIV results, but after repeated exposures the patient tested HIV-positive.

The patient received three viral load tests shortly after his positive HIV test result. The viral load turned out to be extremely low, and his CD4 count was high. These results were out of the ordinary for someone with an acute HIV infection, and the patient had no HIV seroconversion symptoms. Several more tests were performed on the patient and all of them returned similar findings.

The authors of the article report that the patient’s HIV infection was weaker than usual, and that this result was most likely due to the antiretroviral therapy he was receiving.

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