The term “Post-exposure prophylaxis” or PEP refers to the prophylactic use of antiretrovirals
to prevent establishment of HIV infection after an occupational exposure to HIV.
Who is at risk?
All Health Care Personnel, including emergency care providers, laboratory personnel,
autopsy personnel, hospital employees, interns and medical students, nursing staff
and students, physicians, surgeons, dentists, labour and delivery room personnel,
laboratory technicians, health facility sanitary staff and clinical waste handlers
and health care professionals at all levels. Also at risk are public safety workers,
including law enforcement personnel, prison staff, fire-fighters, workers in needle
exchange programme and workers in HIV programmes.
What is the risk?
Health Care Personnel are at risk of blood-borne infection transmission through
exposure of a percutaneous injury (e.g. needle-stick or cut with a sharp instrument),
contact with the mucous membranes of the eye or mouth of an infected person, contact
with non-intact skin (particularly when the exposed skin is chapped, abraded, or
afflicted with dermatitis or contact with blood or other potentially infectious
What is infectious and what is not?
Exposure to blood, semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial, pleural,
peritoneal, pericardial fluid, amniotic fluid and other body fluids contaminated
with visible blood can lead to infection. Exposure to tears, sweat, saliva, urine
and faeces is non-infectious unless these secretions contain visible blood.
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