How to get an HIV test and PrEP as a Thai speaker in NSW

This article is also available in Thai.

When you move to Australia, you’ll probably notice that getting an HIV test and PrEP is different to Thailand. We are here to guide you through that process, especially if your English is limited.

You may have heard the term “Medicare”. Medicare is a health insurance scheme that makes healthcare significantly cheaper for Australian citizens and residents. However, many people who move to Australia don’t have access to it.

The good news is that people without Medicare still have access to free HIV testing at public sexual health clinics, along with a cheaper way to access PrEP. Also, there are ways to do this while speaking Thai if your English is limited. Here are the steps for getting tested and getting PrEP.

How to book your sexual health appointment

The first step is to book a test by using either of these two options:

Option 1: Ask a friend to help make your booking

If you feel comfortable, ask a friend who speaks better English to help you make the appointment. If you don’t, don’t worry—you can skip ahead to option 2.

If your friend agrees to help, you can find a local public sexual health clinic here, write down the number, and call to make a booking. When your friend interprets the call, ask them to:

  • Organise your appointment date and time, and
  • Ask for an interpreter to be available at your testing appointment

Note down your testing clinic name, location, and appointment time so you are ready to make your appointment.

If you are having trouble finding a public sexual health clinic, you could instead ask your friend to call the NSW Sexual Health InfoLink on 1800 451 624 and ask them to help you find a nearby testing location and make the booking for you.

Option 2: Call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink (1800 451 624)

The second option is to call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink (SHIL) on 1800 451 624. This phoneline is operated by sexual health nursing staff and is open between 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM, Monday to Friday. Please note that phone calls to this service are not recorded and you can ask questions while staying anonymous.

  1. Call SHIL to speak with a nurse on 1800 451 624.
  2. Over the phone, request a Thai speaker to call you back by saying the following:
    “My name is ____, Thai language, my phone number is ____.”
    They will call you back with an interpreter, usually within a few minutes.
  3. You will receive a callback and will hear a Thai interpreter and your nurse. Now that you are connected, tell them you want to get an HIV and STI test and if you want to get PrEP. They will then help you make a booking at a local sexual health clinic.

Once they have confirmed the details with you, note down your testing clinic name, location, and appointment time so you are ready to arrive at your appointment.

What to expect when you arrive at the clinic

Arriving at the clinic, an interpreter won’t be available immediately, so you’ll need to check in at reception without them. Your interpreter will be available when you sit down with a doctor or nurse in a private room, either in person or via phone.

When you arrive at reception, you might want to present an ID card showing your name to help the clinic find your details.

You can use a translation app like Google Translate to help you communicate with English-speaking staff until you go to a private room to do your consultation with a doctor or nurse and interpreter.

If you want to get PrEP, once you’re seated and speaking with your doctor or nurse, tell them you want PrEP, and they’ll help you get started.

In Australia, instead of getting PrEP for free at the clinic, you will be given a prescription (or script) to purchase it. A script is a medical document you can take to a pharmacy to buy PrEP. Your doctor should give you a script at the end of your consultation, so make sure to ask about it if you still don’t have one at the end of the appointment.

For those who want PrEP, please continue to the following section.

Buying PrEP from a pharmacy

Instead, it’s recommended that people without Medicare buy PrEP through the Personal Importation Scheme and purchase PrEP from a trustworthy online pharmacy using your script.

This can reduce the cost of a one-month supply of PrEP to about $20. Learn more about accessing PrEP for cheap here.

Once you order PrEP online, it will be delivered to your address, and it can take anywhere from 10 days to a month to arrive.