Where Can I Get Treatment?
Community Pharmacy HIV Medication dispensing commenced nationally on 01 July 2015. This is now an additional option for people who might prefer to pick up their HIV medication from their local pharmacy (or an online pharmacy) rather than their existing hospital-based pharmacy (which is also optional).
QPP have produced a brochure on community pharmacy dispensing below, along with some additional information.
Can I continue to access my HIV medicines from a hospital pharmacy?
Yes. There will be no change if you choose to access your HIV medicines through existing hospital pharmacies. The same arrangements as previous to 01 July 2015 apply. You do not have to access your HIV medicines at a community pharmacy.
Can I utilise both community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies?
Yes, although you are encouraged to develop a regular relationship with one pharmacy and have them hold your repeat prescriptions, you can access other pharmacies (including hospital pharmacies) so long as you are in possession of a current prescription for your HIV medicines.
If you wish to move to another pharmacy you will need to request return of your prescription repeats.
Can I access more than 2 months’ supply at once?
If you have circumstances which will prevent you from accessing a community or hospital pharmacy for your repeats prescriptions (e.g. extended holidays, working away, living remotely), you can ask your doctor whether he/she may be willing to authorise some, or all, of your repeats to be issued at once. This is called a “Regulation 24” authorisation.
What if my community pharmacy is unwilling to fill my prescription?
Due to the high cost of some HIV medications, community pharmacies may not be able to stock all medications. If your chosen pharmacy does not have your medication in stock, we encourage you to have a discussion with your pharmacist about ordering in the required medication and the length of time it would take. Pharmacists have an obligation to ensure patients can access their medications, so if your community pharmacy cannot supply the medications, the pharmacist should assist you with identifying other available sources for your required medications. If you have any further issues please contact QPP.
What if my community pharmacy is unable to fill my prescription?
Despite assurances given, prior to July 1, that HIV medicines would be easily available from any community pharmacy, its seems that some pharmacies are experiencing temporary difficulties in supplying all HIV medications. This seems largely dependent on which medication wholesaler(s) the pharmacy has accounts with. This is frustrating for the pharmacists themselves, as it will undoubtedly be for you. If you encounter difficulty in obtaining your HIV medications from your chosen community pharmacy, your pharmacy may be able to advise you on an alternative source of supply. You also still have the option of obtaining your medicines from a hospital pharmacy.
It is recommended that, when you request your prescription to be filled by a Community Pharmacy, you advise them of the particular medication (drug) names on your prescription, asking them if they can supply those particular medications. Calling ahead to inquire with your chosen Community Pharmacy is recommended.
Medication Reminder Apps
Medication reminder apps are useful reminder tools to assist you with notification when your medications are due for re-ordering at your community or hospital pharmacy. The apps let you know how many doses you have left and when you need to re-order your prescription, and some apps can link to your pharmacy’s website. The following are examples only. We encourage you to determine which app, if any, is right for you.
Pharmacies which offer online and mail-ordering of HIV medicines
Your are encouraged to make your own enquiries with online pharmacies. However, indirect ordering and supply of medicines, such as internet and mail-order dispensing, are less than the optimal way of delivering a pharmacy service, because communication with a pharmacist may not be available.
Some examples of online Pharmacies are listed below:
Will community pharmacists be trained and up-skilled in HIV medicine dispensing?
In Queensland, and nationally, a number of resources and educational initiatives are being undertaken by the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists Australia (SHPA), to help familiarise community pharmacists with HIV medications, their dispensing, side-effects and drug interactions.
Where can I get a prescription for treatment?
HIV Treatment is available throughout Australia to all Medicare Card Holders who have been diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Clinical assessment from an HIV or Sexual Health Physician (doctor) is required before treatment is recommended or a prescription provided. This is because each individual may have different medical and personal circumstances that indicate to the doctor when treatment may be needed.
It is recommended that you visit your HIV or Sexual health Doctor every three (3) months to monitor your HIV health and to assess when treatment is needed – research suggests that people with HIV should begin treatment regardless of their state of health. For more information about this, see the section When Should I Start Treatment.
HIV treatment is a highly specialised medical issue that only specifically trained doctors can provide. Such doctors are called “S100 Prescribers” – a number of private and government clinics have resident S100 Prescribers within Queensland (and throughout Australia).
In Queensland, the Communicable Diseases Branch maintains an S100 prescribers list, available here.
Additionally, Queensland Government provides FREE Sexual Health and HIV specialist clinic services around the state – located in most large regional areas, and some rural or smaller regions. You may contact us at QPP for a list of contact details for these services, or alternatively visit the Queensland Health website which provides the contact list of state-wide HIV & Sexual Health clinical services:
If you have any questions about HIV treatment, please call QPP’s Public Health Officer toll free from a land-line on 1800 636 241, use the contact form provided or call (07) 3013 5555 (nationally).
Information for People without Medicare Cards
Currently in Australia, only those people who have an Australian Medicare Card can access subsidised HIV treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). However, overseas visitors (working, studying or holidaying in Australia) who are not eligible for a Medicare Card can access subsidised treatment if their country is listed within the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with the Australian Government – a full list of these countries can be seen here. If your country is not listed, other affordable options for obtaining HIV treatment will need to be considered.
This resource outlines options and supports that are available, as well as how to access ongoing medical healthcare to monitor your HIV health during your stay in Australia, particularly within Queensland.
It is important to realise that you are not alone if you have been diagnosed with HIV without an Australian Medicare Card, as QPP is available to assist you in navigating your HIV treatment and clinical care needs. QPP offers assistance and support to ALL people living with HIV, whether you are Medicare eligible or not. QPP offers a safe, free and confidential service.
QPP’s Emergency Treatment Fund also provides financial support for Medicare ineligible people with HIV. If you would like to know more about this program, please click the link in above link.
If you seek additional support, help and guidance please contact us on 07 3013 5555 or 1800 636 241 (toll free outside Brisbane) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org