LAGOS—Medical doctors, yesterday, advised rape victims to report within 72 hours of assault, so as to get Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, PEP, treatment against sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV.
They gave the advice in Lagos at a media forum on rape, organised by ‘Media Concern Initiative,’ a non-government organisation, that deals with issues of sexual violence in the country.
Dr. Oliver Ezechi, Chief Research Fellow and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, said PEP was as a short-term anti-retroviral drug treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection.
Ezechi said the aim of administering the treatment within 72 hours of assault was to enable a person’s immune system to provide protection against the virus being established in the body.
He decried the refusal of victims to report rape cases due to socio-cultural reasons and fear of stigma.
Why early treatment in necessary
Ezechi said rape victims were generally susceptible to contracting syphilis, Hepatitis B and unwanted pregnancies, stressing that it was, therefore, imperative for them to get some preventive treatment within 72 hours.
“Victims are not presenting cases early. Some present after a week. This is bad as any PEP given after 72 hours of assault will not be effective.
“Victims should not be afraid to present themselves at health facilities that give PEP treatment because, as doctors, we have a doctor-patient confidentiality which enables us to keep all our patients tell us secret.
“They do not present themselves most of the time because the perpetrators are usually close to the victims and they do not want to drag the family name in the mud. This should not be so.
“When you are raped, you should come to a health facility just the way you were assaulted. Do not bathe or change your clothes. If there is semen on the body or on the clothes, it will help to nail the culprit.”
He advised ladies not to walk alone in secluded places, desist from visiting men they do not trust, desist from taking short-cuts on their way to and from work, and to always dress properly, so as not to attract undue attention.