The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health has approved and made available across the country eight different antiretroviral (ARV) medications to use as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), Gulf News reports. PEP cuts the chances of HIV infection by 79 percent if taken within 72 hours after exposure. A typical PEP regime lasts four weeks.

PEP is immediately administered after potential exposure to HIV; the ARV medications are usually the same as those taken by HIV-positive patients and are only available with a prescription and recommendation by health authorities and the UAE Ministry of Health.   

“PEP is not 100 percent effective; it cannot guarantee that exposure to HIV will not become a case of HIV infection,” explained Farida Al Hosani, senior regional officer for public health.

Al Hosani’s current focus is to council, assure, create trust and explore the feelings of people who feel they could be infected with HIV whether their HIV status is positive or negative. While patients’ identities remains confidential, health officials are lawfully required to report HIV cases to authorities and deport positive expatriates.