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 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 not yet licensed PrEP in Australia. Therefore it is not yet available at a subsidised price 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 licensed for use in Australia, there are a few options for you to access it. They are:
- Your doctor can prescribe Truvada “off label” (even though it is not yet licensed in Australia). This would involve asking the local supplier to supply the drug via your doctor’s “off label” prescription. The cost is approximately $10,000 – $13,500 for a year’s supply of Truvada, which will be too expensive for many people.
- 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 (talk to QPP for more info).
- Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are currently running PrEP trial projects. However, places in these projects are limited.
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).