Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prevention strategy where an HIV negative person takes treatment before exposure to HIV.
This is a whole new approach to HIV prevention, as HIV transmission could be substantially reduced if HIV negative persons most at risk of acquiring HIV are offered PrEP to prevent becoming HIV positive. PrEP is therefore a further prevention strategy for people undertaking high risk behaviour to use in combination with already existing prevention strategies and provides another option for an HIV negative person to protect themselves. However, the most important thing to remember about PrEP is adherence; PrEP will not work if you don’t take it as prescribed.
It works by having an impact on the virus’ ability to establish itself in the body, and therefore lowers the possibility of an HIV negative person becoming HIV positive.
PEP is an HIV treatment taken after exposure to HIV to prevent it from establishing itself in the body, whereas PrEP is an HIV treatment taken before and after exposure.
PrEP highlights the really exciting advances made in HIV prevention because for the first time ever, an HIV negative person now has a biomedical treatment option to prevent transmission and take responsibility for their own health.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has registered Truvada for PrEP in Australia, now indicated for the sexual prevention of HIV among HIV-negative people (as well as part of HIV treatment among HIV-positive people). However, Truvada is not yet available at a subsidised co-payment through Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
If you are considering PrEP, you should discuss this with a doctor with experience in HIV or sexual health to help decide if PrEP is right for you. Even though PrEP is not yet listed on the Australian PBS for PrEP, there are a few options for you to access it. They are:
• Your doctor can write a prescription for Truvada, and you can purchase it at the full cost of approximately $10,000 – $13,500 for a year’s supply of Truvada. However, this cost will be too expensive for most people, but it is an option.
• With your doctor’s prescription, you can purchase a generic version of Truvada from a reliable overseas supplier and import it to Australia. Generics are copies of brand-name drugs. The cost of generic Truvada is much less than the brand-name and would be approximately $1,300 per year, which may be a more affordable option. For more on how to order PrEP online visit prepaccessnow.com.au
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Free RAPID TESTING HIV testing is now available. The rapid test provides results within 20 minutes by collecting a small blood sample from the fingertip. The rapid test detects both HIV antibodies and the HIV antigen, which can appear just 12-26 days after infection. HIV antibodies first appear later around 20 - 45 days after infection. A non-reactive result on the HIV rapid test reduces any anxious waiting. A reactive result leads to early diagnosis which allows you to manage your own health and help you live a healthier life through appropriate treatment. Also find out information at your local sexual health clinic about HIV post-exposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis which are treatments to prevent a person acquiring HIV.
Acknowledgements: Most of the above material comes from Queensland Positive People.
Updated 13/7/2018Back to Top