Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP)
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take a pill every day to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP is very effective if taken daily; poor adherence can result in HIV infection. PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Condoms and regular STI screening is the best way to protect yourself against STIs.
As of April 1 2018, people with a Medicare card who are at high-risk of HIV infection will be able to purchase PrEP with a GP prescription from community pharmacies.
Currently in NSW, people at high risk of HIV can access PrEP through a trial called EPIC-NSW, which is the largest PrEP trial in Australia. EPIC-NSW will stop recruitment and start transitioning participants from study PrEP to accessing PrEP outside the study from 1 May 2018. If you are currently enrolled in EPIC-NSW, please talk to your clinician if you would like more information or visit the EPIC-NSW Study site.
PrEP, HIV testing and early HIV treatments are the key strategies to eliminate HIV transmission.
The best way to protect yourself and others from HIV is to practice safe behaviours. Safe is the way to play.
You can play safe by:
- Always using a condom if you have vaginal or anal sex. Condoms are the best way to guard against HIV and prevent STIs.
- Always use sterile injecting equipment. NUAA have a list of needle and syringe program sites.
An HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, but it still has lifelong consequences that vary from person to person. You may not know you have HIV. Your partner may not know they either. Transmission often occurs when people are not aware they have HIV. You are most infectious soon after getting HIV, even though you may not show any signs. The only way to know is to have a HIV test.
If you think you’ve been recently exposed to HIV, you may be able to prevent HIV infection if you have been exposed within the past 72 hours by using post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
By practicing safe behaviours, combined with advances in treatment and testing, we now have the means to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV by 2020. Together we can make it happen.
HIV testing is faster and easier than ever before and it's confidential. Rapid tests are now available in some locations in NSW which give you a result within 30 minutes.
Who should get tested?
More of us need to get tested more often. How often depends on our lifestyle and sexual behaviour. If you are not sure how often you should be tested check with your doctor or sexual health clinics or NSW Sexual Health Infolink.
HIV tests are covered by Medicare. Testing is faster and easier than ever before and it’s confidential. If you do have HIV, the earlier you know your status and the quicker you see a doctor, the better your chances are of living a longer and healthier life.
If your are pregnant, or thinking about pregnancy
If you are pregnant, it is important that you consider getting an HIV test, and speak to your GP or health professional. An information sheet is available which provides a few key points on the importance of HIV testing.
HIV testing options
There are now new ways of getting tested. In addition to a conventional blood test, rapid test are now available which give you a result within 30 minutes. One of the tests collects oral fluids, the other involves blood from a finger prick. Rapid HIV testing in NSW is only available to gay men and other homosexually active men. HIV tests are covered by Medicare.
Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your health outcomes. If you think you or your partners have been at risk of HIV infection, you can have a test through your local doctor or sexual health clinic.
If you do have HIV, your previous partners may be at risk. The best thing you can do is to let them know so they can get tested as soon as possible. For assistance in notifying your previous partners, either personally or anonymously. Further information can be found on Let Them Know, or Drama Down Under if you are a gay man. Or, if you prefer, you can ask your doctor to help.
By testing more, combined with advances in treatment and continued safe behaviours, we now have the means to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV by 2020. Together we can make it happen.
Quick diagnosis and treatment can improve your health outcomes and prevents the risk of passing on HIV. Treatment today is now simpler with fewer side effects.
Treatment is not a cure. While treatment reduces the risk of passing HIV on to someone else, you still need to use condoms, use sterile injecting equipment, and be safe.
Treating early, combined with improved testing and continued safe behaviours, we now have the means to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV by 2020. Together we can make it happen.
Options for picking up your HIV treatments
HIV treatments can be dispensed by local chemists. This will make it easier for people with HIV to pick up their HIV medication especially as local chemists often offer weekend and evening opening hours. You also have a number of options to purchase your HIV drugs from online pharmacies, which can be a useful way to have medications posted to your home address. Search the web for the online services – free delivery options might be available.
HIV treatments are specialised and not all chemists will choose to dispense them for a range of reasons such as difficulties in managing stocks. You will need to discuss your medication needs with the pharmacist at the chemist you want to use.
In you need any more information talk to your doctor, nurse, sexual health centre or pharmacist. The services below can also assist:
Positive Life NSW
02 9206 2177
Freecall – 1800 245 677
02 9206 2000
Freecall – 1800 063 060
Bobby Goldsmith Foundation
02 9283 8666
Freecall – 1800 651 011