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How do ARVs work to prevent infection?

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th December 2009 03:00 AM

POST exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in HIV/AIDS care refers to use of ARVs to try and abort an infection of HIV by people who have been exposed to the virus.

POST exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in HIV/AIDS care refers to use of ARVs to try and abort an infection of HIV by people who have been exposed to the virus.

Face HIV with Dr. Watiti

Dear doctor,
It is said ARVs do not kill HIV and so people who are infected with it cannot be cured. How then do ARVs work when given as post exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection?
Susan.

Dear Susan,
POST exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in HIV/AIDS care refers to use of ARVs to try and abort an infection of HIV by people who have been exposed to the virus.

The ARVs do not work by killing the virus in the same way antibiotics kill bacteria, but they block its replication inside the cells.

ARVs are able to do this because HIV cannot reproduce on its own since its genetic material (RNA) cannot divide.

So in order for the virus to reproduce it must turn its RNA into DNA, the human genetic material, which can divide.
However to go through this process known as transcription, it needs an enzyme known as reverse transcriptase.

ARVs work by blocking this enzyme. That is why once an HIV negative person has been exposed to the virus, he or she should be given ARVs as soon as possible for PEP to work.

How do ARVs work to prevent infection?

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