Mumbai : AIDS experts have warned against a rising trend of youngsters of taking prophylactic drugs with the purpose of avoiding the dreaded HIV infection due to unprotected exposure with unknown partners.

Dr JK Maniar, AIDS consultant, explained that it has become a trend in recent years for youngsters to have unprotected relations. “Since most of them are aware of the risk of getting HIV infection, they have started using pre-exposure prophylactic drugs without any supervision,” he said. The idea of using these drugs is to prevent any possible transmission of this infection between the two partners. The doctor admitted that use of the prophylactic drug has the benefit of blocking the HIV virus from infecting the person, Dr Maniar said. “But there are many other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are not covered by this drug and hence the users remain open to these risks.

Another AIDS consultant, Dr IS Gilada, said that the biggest risk associated with taking these medicines in an indiscriminate manner is that the person will develop a resistance to it over a period of time. “And if by any chance, the person develops HIV infection at a later stage of time, these prophylactic drugs may not work on him,” he pointed out.

Medical sources said that many persons who are using the drugs have picked up the brand names from the internet sites. “They get these names and take the drugs from any chemist shops that do not even bother to ask for any prescription,” a senior doctor said. In other cases, there are even some doctors who willingly give the names of these drugs and then these are obtained from the local drug stores.

Dr Maniar said that a strip of 30 tablets of the prophylactic drug costs around Rs 750 and this can be easily afforded by most persons. “These persons tend to have a tablet a day when they planning to have relations with an unknown partner,” he said. In fact, this drug can be taken even up to 12 hours after the exposure and the person will still not get infected, he added. While this shows that people are generally aware of HIV, it exposes them to the risk of other infections that can be difficult to treat.

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