Medication After Rape - Preventing HIV/AIDS

Steps you can take to protect your health

You have the right to:

  • be always treated with respect and dignity by doctors, nurses, police officers, prosecutors, and social workers who help you after the rape.
  • be given full and accurate information about your health. Health workers must tell you about any medicines they can recommend to you, as well as the cost of these medicines.
  • emergency medical treatment if you are seriously injured even if you can’t pay for it to refuse treatment.
Information about your health is confidential. No healthcare worker can tell others about your HIV status without your permission.

Worried about being exposed to HIV after rape. What can you do?
  • You can take ART (anti-retroviral) medicines called “post exposure prophylaxis” or PEP to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. These medicines can be taken by children as well.
You must start taking the medicine as soon as possible, but within 72 hours (3 days) after the incident. If more than 72 hours has passed since you were raped, it is too late for these medicines to reduce the risk of possibly contracting HIV.
  • Before starting medication, you will need to have an HIV test which needs to include pre-test counselling (which should cover what the test means) and post-test counselling after you have received the results of the HIV test.
  • Medication can only be started if you have test HIV negative. You will need to take the medicine for 28 days.

These medicines are strong and may have side-effects, such as:
  • headaches,
  • tiredness,
  • skin rash,
  • a running stomach,
  • nausea and others
These side-effects are usually not serious and will not last long. If the side effects are very unpleasant, go back to a doctor and request medication to help you manage the side-effects.
  • If you test HIV positive, you won’t be starting the medication, but should consult with the doctor about things you can do to look after yourself when you have HIV.
Where can you get these Medicines?
  • You can get these medicines at the state hospitals and some clinics for free. You can also get these medicines at a chemist, but you will need a prescription and they may be expensive to buy. Most medical aid schemes now provide and pay for these medicines.
  • Another HIV tests will be done after 6 (six) weeks after the rape. It is very important for you to find out the results of your HIV tests so that you know your HIV status. If you test negative, it means that you did not contract HIV from the rape.
Other Steps you can take to protect your health

Ask the doctors for:
  • Antibiotic medicines to stop you from getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • The “morning-after” pill to prevent you from becoming pregnant from the rape.
  • Medicines that would prevent you from getting Hepatitis B from your rapist.
If you have sexual intercourse with a partner during the 6 weeks whilst waiting for the 2nd HIV test you or your partner MUST use a condom.