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Reach Of The Morning-After Pill Treatment Inadequate Among Sexual Assault Victims

Activists, medical experts and counselors have urged the Ontario Government to launch a programme to ensure provision of drug treatment// to all victims of sexual assault, who might have been exposed to the HIV/AIDS virus. // The cost associated with this drug treatment ($1,200) has resulted in a limited availability of this therapy (combination therapy using Combivir and Kaletra).

Very little effort is being done to promote the availability of this potential life saving therapy amongst the general public, according to Llewellyn Goddard, an active member of the Toronto's People with AIDS Foundation. "There are gaps in terms of health campaigns out there and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is one of them", said Watchorn, one of the health officials.

This form of treatment has been offered to health care workers since 1990. The pressure exerted by sexual assault centers and members of the medical community ensured availability of the treatment at more than 24 regional sex assault centers. In order for the treatment to be effective, it has to be offered within 72 hours of the incident.

This however would not have been possible if not for the joint study conducted by the Ontario Women's Health Council and the Centre for Research in Women's Health. It is further hoped that this facility can be made available to all sexual assault victims if it were to be funded universally.

The treatment, commonly known as morning-after pill for exposure to HIV, should be used in cases of known HIV exposure for a period of 28 days. If this information is not known, offering the treatment is largely based on the discretion of the attending physician. While doing so, it is equally important for the doctor to assess the risk associated with an encounter and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with the patient, thereby enabling them take an informed decision.

If instituted within the stipulated time, has been f
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