My son Peter was circumcised three years ago and I still remember the agonising moments I endured before he “faced the knife”. For starters, he had never gone for an HIV test. I gave birth to him in the days when programmes such as prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV hadn’t hit the scene. In fact, back then I was told Peter wouldn’t live to see his first birthday.
Fast forward to his teen years, and I wanted him to undergo this rite of passage. However, I had one small problem. Okay, it was huge enough to give me sleepless nights. “Should I take Peter to have a test first?” I asking myself over and over, as my mind see-sawed between one answer and the next. I knew my ABCs. I knew that facing the knife meant blood had to be spilled. And I knew that sometimes accidents happen, and transmission of HIV can occur even in an operating theatre setting. That’s why in HIV-speak there is what is known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). In layman’s terms, PEP means taking anti-retroviral drugs as soon as possible after exposure to HIV, so that the exposure does not result in infection.