Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP)

PrEP is an effective HIV prevention method where a HIV negative individual takes antiretroviral therapy to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.

PrEP can be taken daily, on-demand or periodically during periods of increased risk (such as travelling overseas).

On-demand or event-driven PrEP involves taking two PrEP pills 2-24 hours before sex, followed by one pill 24 hours after the first dose and another pill 24 hours after the second dose. On-demand PrEP can be offered as an alternative to daily PrEP for cis-gender MSM.

PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Condoms and regular STI screening is the best way to protect yourself against STIs.

People with a Medicare card who meet high or medium HIV infection risk criteria can purchase PrEP from a community pharmacies with a GP prescription. The NSW PrEP Information Booklet, and ACON PrEP website provide information on accessing PrEP through your GP.

Please talk to your clinician and visit PrEP access in NSW for information on PrEP.

More information

PrEP, HIV testing and early HIV treatments are the key strategies to eliminate HIV transmission.

Stay safe

The best way to protect yourself and others from HIV is to practice safe behaviours:

  • Always using a condom if you have vaginal or anal sex. Condoms are the best way to protect against HIV and prevent STIs.
  • Always use sterile injecting equipment. Visit NSW Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) outlets for a list of sites.
  • Talk to your doctor about starting PrEP to protect yourself from HIV infection. PrEP does not protect you against other STIs.

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).

Test more

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 you 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. 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, you can ask your doctor to help.

Treat early

HIV is now a management condition and quick diagnosis and starting treatment early can improve your health outcomes. While there is currently no cure to HIV, treatment today is simple and has fewer side effects. Adhering to your treatment and having an undetectable viral load means you cannot pass HIV on to your partners (this is known as ‘Treatment as prevention’).

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.

If 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

Current as at: Thursday 13 October 2022
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health