A YOUNG Orange man who sought help at Orange hospital after being exposed to the HIV virus hopes Orange Health Service has changed its procedures .
He says staff at the hospital didn’t know what procedures to follow for the administration of an intervention drug.
The 20-year-old who does not want his name published for reasons of privacy, said he went to the accident and emergency department of the hospital a couple of hours after exposure to the HIV virus in June last year hoping to be administered the PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) drug.
“All the education around HIV tells you to go to the nearest accident and emergency department which is what I did but they just didn’t seem to know what to do,” he said.
After being referred to the sexual health clinic in Kite Street he had to wait another three days for an appointment which he says was too late, missing the window of opportunity for the drug to be effective.
Orange Health Service was not able to provide a reason why the young man was put in jeopardy by not being able to access medical assistance within the prescribed 72 hour period, however has issued a statement saying it has a clear policy in place for the assessment, management and follow up of people who present to the emergency department or the sexual health service.
“Fortunately I knew a friend who had PEP medication and I gave me a starter kit to get me through,” the young man said.
“Our standard of practice which outlines the process when a patient presents for NPEP (PEP) is available to staff in the emergency department and there is an after hours supply of NPEP available 24-hours a day seven days a week,” the hospital spokesman said.
The spokesman said Orange’s sexual health clinic does not keep a supply of the drug on hand but refers individuals to a local general practitioner.
The young man said he is telling his story in the hope young gay males who often feel the burden of being isolated in rural regions don’t have to go through the same experience he had in Orange last year.
“I was just so surprised that at a hospital like Orange the staff wouldn’t have known about it and have the drug,” he said.
Fortunately the young man has remained free from the HIV virus as he has undergone regular blood testing since June last year.