LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Lamar County Southern Medical Care physician Dr. Lara Otaigbe said the local medical community is dealing with an alarming statistic.
“In our local area, particularly in the Forrest County area, the incidence of HIV is rising rapidly,” Otaigbe said.
Otaigbe said there are more than 9,000 active cases of HIV in Forrest County, and hundreds of new cases. She said there is a way to slow down the increase. It’s called PrEP, it’s a pill called Truvada.
“We do a blood test to determine, first of all, that you are HIV negative and that your liver is working well and that you do not have any other coexisting sexually transmitted diseases," Otaigbe said. "With that being the case, then we will put you on a daily pill once a day, and we do monitor your blood levels every three to six months.”
Otaigbe said Truvada reduces the risk of getting HIV sexually. It’s a regimen she offers at her office.
“By far PrEP has been very successful in cutting back the risk and incidence of HIV positivity,” Otaigbe said.
If someone believes they have been exposed to HIV, Otaigbe offers a 28 day program called PEP. She said it significantly cuts down on the risk of contracting HIV, but time is crucial in this case.
“Post exposure prophylaxis has to be started within 72 hours of the exposure," Otaigbe said. "So, if it’s an accidental needle stick, if it’s an accidental contact with someone else’s blood or whatever go and see your doctor right away, go explain to them what has happened.”
Otaigbe said when it comes to protecting yourself against HIV, it is best to be proactive, not reactive.
If you would like to learn more about PrEP or PEP, you can contact Dr. Otaigbe at her office, Southern Medical Care at 601-261-2727.