Survivors have both acute and long-lasting medical and psychosocial needs. Medical care is more likely to be effective if it is accessed as soon as possible. The 5 essential services they need are:

Emergency medical care for wounds
Any wounds need immediate medical attention and extreme cases, such as knife wounds, can require surgery.

Psychological first aid
Survivors may arrive in a state of shock. Initial counseling helps to stabilise their symptoms and prepare them for medical consultations. Timely counseling can prevent the development of more serious mental disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Prevention of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Post-exposure prophylaxis with antiretrovirals (ARVs) can prevent HIV infection, but it only works if started within 72 hours of the rape. It must be taken for 28 consecutive days. If a patient arrives later than 72 hours after the rape, it is too late to prevent HIV infection.

Other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhea can be prevented and treated with antibiotics. Without treatment some STIs can result in infertility.

Emergency contraception
If a rape survivor seeks medical care within 5 days of the assault, it is possible to prevent an unwanted pregnancy with emergency contraception. The pill stops ovulation and inhibits implantation of a fertilised egg in the womb.

Vaccinations for hepatitis B and tetanus
Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and is more contagious than HIV. Vaccines are effective in preventing infection if the first dose is given within 3 months of the rape.

Depending on the wounds inflicted, the survivor may be at risk of contracting tetanus. If a survivor has not been previously immunised or when the immunisation status is unknown, they should receive a tetanus vaccination.



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