PrEP is a preventive medication to protect you from contracting HIV.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of HIV medications by HIV-negative people to prevent HIV acquisition. People at risk of HIV are eligible for PrEP, including sexually active gay and bisexual men and transgender people, and anyone who has sexual partners of unknown HIV status, or from countries with a high incidence of HIV.
Research shows that PrEP is more than 99% effective at preventing HIV transmission when taken as directed.
Generic brand Emtricitabine/Tenofovir is the only PBS approved PrEP treatment in Australia. Find out more by visiting the AFAO site Get PrEP’D.
Daily Dose Or On Demand?
PrEP can be taken as a daily dose so that you are protected against HIV transmission all the time. This option means whenever sex happens you have HIV prevention covered. Another benefit is that you can get fit PrEP into your daily routine to avoid missing a dose.
On-Demand or Episode-Based PrEP describes how some people choose to only use PrEP when they know there is a chance they may be exposed to HIV. For example, if you normally do not have sex with new partners, but then you are going travelling and expect this to change, you can take PrEP before, during, and after this travel period only. This method may not be appropriate for transmen.
The PrEP Guidelines recommend taking two tablets between 2 and 24 hrs before your first sexual contact, and then one tablet daily after that. Continue to take one daily tablet for a minimum of 48hrs after your last sexual contact. For more detail about how PrEP on Demand works, check out these two websites:
Talk to your doctor about which way will suit your lifestyle.
How Can I Get PrEP?
PrEP is available in Australia with a prescription. That prescription needs to come from a General Practitioner (GP) or at a sexual health clinic after a full sexual health screening. PrEP is available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for anyone with a Medicare card. For more information about what this means, please see the AFAO PrEP Factsheet.
The screening will be repeated with every visit to check not only for HIV but also for any other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). You can find a doctor in your area to consult about PrEP by visiting the PAN website. Websites such as PrEPaccessNOW can also assist people in connecting to pharmacies.
What If I Am Not Eligible For Medicare?
Personally importing PrEP is still an option. Click here to find out more via ASHM and AFAO. Prep can be purchased and imported via online pharmacies with a prescription. Canberra Sexual Health Centre can provide information on self-importation, prescriptions, and assist you to monitor your health while on PrEP, along with regular sexual health check-ups.
Is PrEP For Me?
In Australia, sexually active gay and bisexual men, transgender people and heterosexual people with an HIV-positive partner who does not have an undetectable viral load are population groups that are at higher risk. If you are not using PrEP, and you think you are at high risk of HIV, you should see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic to assess whether PrEP will benefit you. ASHM (Australian Sexual Health Medicine) has developed clinical guidelines to assist doctors in making decisions about prescribing PrEP.
PrEP is recommended as a daily dose in general. However, some people will find that taking PrEP only around the time that they are sexually active is more suitable for their life circumstances. This is called episode-based or On-Demand PrEP, and it is only recommended for cis-gendered men having sex with men.
To find out if daily dosing or episode-based dosing is best for you, ask your doctor for advice or read this resource by AFAO.
Do I Need To Use Condoms When On PrEP?
Condoms protect against more than HIV, providing users with safety from a number of other STIs. You should have an honest, open discussion with your sexual partner/s about sexual health, taking care of yourself and taking care of each other, and make a decision about protection you are both comfortable with. Regular sexual health testing is a great idea for anyone who is sexually active. To find out more about access to sexual health testing in the ACT, click here.
If you would like to discuss if PrEP is for you, contact us on 02 6257 2855 or Canberra Sexual Health Centre on 02 6244 2184.