What is PrEP?
PrEP is the use of antiretroviral drugs, taken by HIV negative people to prevent HIV infection. PrEP is an acronym that stands for pre exposure prophylaxis and is an exciting new tool that will play a vital role in our efforts to end HIV in NSW by 2020. Unlike post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is taken after a potential exposure to HIV, PrEP is taken on an ongoing basis and it provides protection against HIV. Studies from around the world have shown that if PrEP is taken daily, it prevents HIV in advance to any potential exposure.
PrEP allows guys to be in control of their HIV status. Control means more confidence all round.
PrEP provides around the clock protection against HIV. When you take PrEP once a day you are always protected.
PrEP relieves stress and anxiety that can be associated with sex. When you’re with that special guy, PrEP allows you to connect and be in the moment.
Neg or pos, we all share responsibility for HIV prevention. With PrEP, negative guys have an additional tool that they can use to proactively be in control of their HIV status. When PrEP is in the equation, positive guys can be confident that their partners are well protected.
Is PrEP for you?
There are now a variety of ways that you can choose to stay safe when having sex. Choosing a strategy that suits you and your personal circumstance is crucial. Whether you choose to use condoms, take PrEP or rely on treatment as prevention, it is important that your choice is an informed one.
PrEP is recommended for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV. Clinical guidelines stipulate that PrEP should be prescribed to HIV negative people who are at an ongoing risk of acquiring HIV. These people might be gay or other same-sex attracted men who do not always use condoms with casual partners when having anal sex. In NSW, you can find out more about how to access PrEP through the EPIC-NSW Study here.
You must be HIV negative and an HIV test should always be performed before you start taking PrEP. Book a HIV test at a[TEST] here.
How can you get PrEP?
If you are considering PrEP, you should discuss this with a doctor with experience in HIV or sexual health to help decide if it is right for you.
The EPIC-NSW Study
EPIC-NSW is a study run by the Kirby Institute, in collaboration with a number of partners, which aims to assess the impact of the rapid expansion in access to PrEP amongst those at high risk of acquiring HIV.
The trial will enrol 3,700 people at high risk of acquiring HIV – the vast majority of whom will be gay and bisexual men. Study participants will receive 24 months of PrEP free of charge. They will be required to attend three monthly follow ups that will include a full sexual health screen and HIV tests.
If you would like to access PrEP through the EPIC-NSW study the first step you need to take is to call the PrEP Info Line on 1800 451 624 to be assessed for eligibility. A clinician will make an assessment and if eligible you will be referred onto an intake appointment.
EPIC-NSW clinics are located in both regional and urban areas of NSW.
Access Through Personal Importation
Some people may not meet the strict eligibility criteria of the EPIC-NSW study but still be interested in accessing PrEP. For those people, personal importation of generic PrEP might be the most affordable option. To import PrEP from overseas you must:
- Discuss PrEP with a doctor to determine if PrEP is right for you.
- Have an HIV test before beginning PrEP.
- Get a valid Australian issued prescription to accompany the medicine being imported.
- Ensure that the website you want to purchase from is legitimate and sources PrEP from a WHO approved source.
- Arrange for the medicine to be sent to you from an overseas supplier family member/ friend.
- Manage ongoing importation with your clinician. This process will involve continued testing for HIV and other STIs.
For more detailed information on personal importation download this resource.
For more information on importing medicines for personal see the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website.
Living Positive Victoria has produced a resource to assist people with HIV to talk to their friends and partners about PrEP which is on their website.