Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
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.
How does PrEP work?
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.
What’s the difference between PEP and PrEP?
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.
Is PrEP available in Australia?
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).
What are the options for obtaining PrEP?
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 www.prepaccessnow.com.au
- Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and now Western Australia are running PrEP trial projects. On 07 November 2016 The Queensland Minister for Health – The Honourable Cameron Dick – has announced the commencement of the Queensland PrEP study – QPrEPd. The study will provide PrEP for up to 2000 Queenslanders. This marks a significant milestone for Queensland to expand HIV prevention services. The trial is an initiative of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Health, University of Queensland (UQ School of Public Health), and the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC), and involves 21 study locations throughout Queensland. Most sites are recruiting now, with all sites expected to be open by early 2017. People interested in participating in this study should contact your local clinic directly to enquire about availability of appointments as well as their billing practices (Bulk Billing or Fee). While the medication for QPrEPd participants will be free, some clinics do charge private fees for consultations. Further info: http://tinyurl.com/nq2ztm3
If you are after more info about accessing PrEP, a ‘ PrEP Access Factsheet’ is available through the HIV Foundation Queensland website.
For even more information: Click here to view HIV Foundation’s PrEP Forum (March 2015)
Please contact QPP if you would like any further info, you can speak to our team toll free from a land-line on 1800 636 241, use the contact form provided or call (07) 3013 5555 (nationally).