Positive Life NSW Blog

HIV meds in community pharmacies from July 2015

Posted by on in Advocacy and Policy

IMAGE: Pharmacist handing over medicine bottle to person

In the lead up to the recent International AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne, The Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Federal Minister for Health launched the Seventh National HIV Strategy 2014-2017.

The Strategy acknowledged that:

“for some people living with HIV, issues around side effects, adherence, treatment failure, drug resistance, cost, and arrangements that restrict dispensing of antiretroviral medication to selected hospital pharmacies present barriers to commencing or continuing treatment. Systemic and structural barriers to treatment uptake, such as dispensing arrangements and treatment access across all groups, need to be addressed by Commonwealth, state and territory governments” ¹·.

To this end, Minister Dutton committed to implement community pharmacy access to HIV antiretroviral therapy under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

What this means is that from 1 July 2015, people with HIV will be able to get HIV medications dispensed from either a hospital pharmacy, or a community pharmacy.

Under the current policy, HIV medications can only be dispensed by a hospital pharmacy.  Community based S100 prescribers and patients are required to be associated with a hospital to be able to access antiretrovirals. From 1 July 2015, this will no longer be the case.

The change in policy recognises that, even though people with HIV are treated by community prescribers (GP s100 prescribers) and specialists in a hospital setting, there is an increased need for people to have a range of options to collect their HIV medications. The change in policy better aligns community prescribing and the need for patient dispensing convenience – a position which has strongly been advocated by HIV activists over the last decade as more.

As increasing numbers of people with HIV returned to employment and were required to take time off from work to attend hospital pharmacies and collect their HIV medications, the need for the convenience of evening and weekend dispensing of HIV medications became increasingly urgent.

So what will the HIV dispensing landscape look like after July 2015?

Well I very much doubt that you will be able to walk into any local community pharmacy and get your HIV prescription dispensed. What is more likely is that community pharmacies with high numbers of existing or potential customers with HIV will opt-in to provide an ART dispensing service. It is likely that in areas with high populations of people with HIV (Darlinghurst, Newtown, Marrickville, Redfern, Surry Hills etc.) a community pharmacy may choose to provide this service. But, if you live in an area where you’re the only other HIV-positive person, or there’s just a small population, it’s probably unlikely that your local community pharmacy will be prepared to dispense your HIV meds.

That being said, it’s a huge step forward for people with HIV and one which will not only provide a much needed after-hours access to dispensing services, but will assist in the removal of yet another barrier to treatment uptake and adherence and make it much easier to pick up your HIV medication.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://thechoiceisyours.positivelife.org.au/

¹· Seventh National HIV Strategy 2014-2017 © Commonwealth of Australia 2014 Chapter 7.3 Management, Care and Support

Also published at GayNewsNetwork 8 September 2014

Last modified on


  • Guest
    Susanna Yang Tuesday, 25 August 2015

    Thank you Lance, I have just found that we are already on the list of pharmacies there.

  • Guest
    Lance Feeney Friday, 31 July 2015

    HI Susanna - please visit the Choice is Yours website at http://thechoiceisyours.positivelife.org.au/ and add your pharmacy to the list there. You can also email us directly at contact@positivelife.org.au if you have any further queries.

    Lance, Positive Life NSW

  • Guest
    Susanna Yang Saturday, 18 July 2015

    Hi there,
    I'm a pharmacist at Wynyard YouSave Chemist on Carrington Street in Wynyard. I just wanted to let you know that our pharmacy will be providing HIV medications, we already have a few customers who have been enquiring. At the moment, it is a bit hard to source the medication as our supplier does not have available stock but we will be keeping an eye out for supply. Just wondering as to who would be the appropriate contact so I could let you know if supply is available?

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