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This is with reference to the article “Surgeon and HIV Infection, Post Exposure Prophylaxis: Need of the hour” by Lt Col Man Mohan Harjai, Surg Lt Cdr Rohit Sharma, Wg Cdr PK Menon, Col BM Nagpal VSM, Col Y Singh VSM, MJAFI 2000;56:328-31.
The article is extremely well written and addresses the burning problem of occupational exposure of HCWs to HIV. especially in view of the 3.7 million adults estimated to be infected with HIV/AIDS in India . The observance of universal precautions and post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) remain the only suitable defences. However, it needs to be pointed out that the high cost (Tab Duovir, Cipla, approx Rs. 130/- per day) and poor availability of these drugs, at present, make PEP an impractical proposition in most of the Military Hospitals. Further, for best response PEP should be started within one hour of suspected exposure to HIV [2, 3]. This would be possible only if all Military Hospitals have a readily available stock of these drugs, especially the ones situated in remote areas.
It is requested that suitable action should be immediately taken by the health care administrators to ensure easy availability of at least two drugs i.e. Zidovudine and Lamivudine or else PEP would just remain a pious hope for the HCWs of our Armed Forces.