HIV-negative

If you tested HIV-negative but were recently at risk of exposure to HIV infection, you can seek PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatment within 72 hours of the sex having taken place.  It’s a form of ARV treatment that can prevent HIV from developing in the body.

If you are HIV-negative and believe that you may be at risk of infection shortly for whatever reason, you can enquire about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which will decrease your chances of future HIV-infection by 90%.  However, it does not protect against other STI infections.

HIV-positive

Nowadays living with HIV is easily manageable if you seek out and take the proper treatment.  The life expectancy of someone who is HIV-positive is very much the same as someone who is HIV-negative if they use antiretroviral treatment (ART) correctly. The medication used these days has fewer side-effects and is much simpler to adhere to (often as simple as taking one tablet per day).

Some people who take ARVs do experience some side-effects, but they usually go away after a few months, and if the side-effects do persist there are ways to manage them over time.  It’s important to communicate whatever side-effects you may be feeling with your healthcare provider to see if there is a more suitable alternative treatment for you.

It is very important that ARVs are taken every single day (preferably at the same time) in order to prevent the virus from developing a resistance to the medication.  If you have a strict routine and take your ARVs daily when you should, you increase the medication’s ability to do what it can for you.

Other STIs

Treatment for STIs like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and other bacterial STIs are treated very effectively with a course of strong antibiotics.

Viral STIs like herpes and genital warts (HPV) cannot yet be cured but can be treated using ointments, creams and other forms of medication.  Chat to your healthcare provider about a treatment that would work for you.