For people who do not have HIV there are several ways to keep from contracting HIV. Condoms will always provide a mainstay within these scenarios.
There are two other effective options to prevent HIV. Both are bio-pharmaceutical (medicine-based) ways to protect against contracting HIV.
Post Exposure Prophylaxis – PEP
PEP stands for ‘Post-Exposure Prophylaxis’ (after-exposure protection). If you think you have been exposed to HIV, PEP is a month-long course of anti-HIV drugs that can keep HIV from taking hold in your body. This can be accessed at the emergency department of all public hospitals and sexual health clinics. PEP prevents HIV acquisition if there has been an accidental exposure such as a condom breakage.
You can get PEP from any sexual health clinic, The Albion Centre, or the Emergency Department of most public hospitals.
PEP Hotline: 1800 737 669 (1800 PEP NOW)
staffed Mon-Fri 9am–9pm, Sat-Sun 8am–9pm, Public holidays 8am–9pm
The PEP Hotline is a service that provides information, assessment, and referral following a possible high risk exposure to HIV.
If you have been exposed to HIV, the sooner you start PEP the better. It must be started within 72 hours after your possible exposure to HIV.
Click here to learn more about PEP
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – PrEP
PrEP stands for ‘Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis’ (before-exposure protection). PrEP is a daily medication for people who do not have HIV to protect themselves from getting HIV. If you’d like to remain HIV negative, PrEP is a daily medication to protect yourself from acquiring the HIV virus.
PrEP also provides extra reassurance to people living with HIV, that our HIV-negative partners and, lovers are protected from HIV. It can help reduce the anxiety and fear of transmitting HIV, and help reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the community.
PrEP does not provide any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis C. Using condoms still provides the best protection against these infections.
Any Australian resident with a current Medicare card, can access PrEP through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a subsidised cost. Any doctor can write a prescription for PrEP which can be taken to any pharmacy for dispensing. If PrEP is accessed in this way, a PBS co-payment at the pharmacy will need to be made.
People who are not eligible for Medicare or who do not have a Medicare card, can get PrEP on a private prescription from any doctor. They have three brands to choose from (Generic Health Pty Ltd, Apotex Pty Ltd and Alphapharm Pty Ltd). This prescription can be dispensed at any community pharmacy. The cost for a private prescription is higher than for PBS-subsidised medicines.
If a person is not eligible to access PrEP through Medicare, or finds the cost of purchasing PrEP locally too high, then another option is to purchase a generic version of the drug online from a reliable overseas supplier using the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Personal Importation Scheme. A prescription from a doctor is still required before ordering online. There are multiple overseas suppliers who will supply PrEP for import into Australia at a range of costs. The PrEP Access Now website has more information on personal importation.