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Plea on on HIV prophylaxis

GPs should consider prescribing patients post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection, new national guidance recommends.

The Chief Medical Officer stressed the importance of

considering prophylaxis after non-occupational exposure in

a letter to PCT and strategic health authority chief executives.

Sir Liam Donaldson highlighted new guidance from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV emphasising that post-exposure prophylaxis must be prescribed as soon as possible after potential exposure to the virus.

The new guidelines recommend doctors carry out a risk-benefit analysis for every patient who presents following exposure, and that the decision to start treatment should be made on a case-by-case basis.

The guidelines state: 'This [analysis] should consider both the risk of transmission according to coital act and the risk of the source being HIV positive.

'Consideration should be given to the possibility of the presenting individual having already been infected with HIV, and the ability to adhere to and tolerate the proposed antiretroviral drug regimen.'

But the document warns that use of prophylactic treatment after potential sexual exposure is only recommended when patients present within 72 hours.

Sir Liam told chief executives: 'I would ask you to ensure that post-exposure prophylaxis is part of the spectrum of sexual health services for your local populations.'

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