PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of medication by people without HIV to prevent infection.

What is PrEP?

It’s combination of two antiretroviral medications commonly used in the treatment of HIV. It reduces the risk of HIV infection with studies showing 99% reduction if taken every single day.

Who can take PrEP?

It’s most suitable for those at highest risk of HIV infection.

Any reason I can’t take PrEP?

While most people tolerate the medication quite well it can’t be taken to prevent HIV transmission in people;

  • already living with HIV (in which case we would recommend treatment with HIV medication)
  • with significant kidney disease
  • who are on other medication which affects their kidneys
  • allergic to the medication
  • taking other medication with the same ingredients

If you are at low risk of HIV transmission there might not be any point taking this medication.

Where do I buy PrEP?

PrEP has proven to be an extremely effective way of preventing HIV infection if taken regularly. A study called EPIC NSW (Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW) was implemented to provide this medication for thousands of people at risk of HIV in NSW. Green Square Health was a registered trial site and we were enrolling  people who were eligible.

The trial ended on the 30th of April. If you were already on PrEP via the EPIC trial please give us a call about medication you may be eligible for.

PrEP has been available on the PBS from the 1st of April 2018. If you do not have a medicare card you can still take PrEP via a private prescription which and then can be dispensed from a local pharmacy in Australia,  or order from an online pharmacy (limited to 3 month supply at a time). For a list of reputabile online pharmacies, visit pan.org.au

How much does PrEP cost?

For patients who hold a valid medicare card, PrEP is available on the PBS. If you are eligible (medium to high risk of HIV infection), then a bottle of 30 tablets will cost $38.50, or $5.40 if you hold a concession card.

If you don’t hold a medicare card there’s no reason to worry. You can legally import PrEP medication from overseas with a valid doctor’s prescription from Australia. This can range between $22-$98 a month depending on the pharmacy and you can order 3 months supply at a time.

Sounds great, what do I do next?!

Firstly we need to make sure there’s no reason you can’t take it, and a HIV test and Kidney function test are necessary. We also take a full STI screen at this time as well.
Once your results have returned, we issue a 1 month supply prescription initially, and ask you to repeat the HIV test and Kidney function test a few days before you finish the tablets. Depending on how that month has gone, we might repeat the STI screen too.

If everything is going smoothly, we prescribe a further 2 month supply, and catch up every 3 months for an STI screen, a chat about your ongoing risk and if this has changed in any way, and make sure your kidney function is stable and remains in the healthy range. It is also a great opportunity to check in regarding your overall health, and we’re happy to discuss any urgent or non urgent medical concerns you might have.

So if you think PrEP might be right for you, and you want to add it to your arsenal of tools to stay safe, come chat to one of the doctors at GS Health.

Some great information about PrEP is available at https://endinghiv.org.au/nsw/stay-safe/prep/

Updated 31st of May 2018 by D. Chanisheff

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