PrEP FAQs

That’s great! Making the choice to protect yourself with PrEP is a great step in taking control of your sexual health.

First thing is first - you need to go for a sexual health test. Haven’t been in a while? Worried about other STIs? No biggie. Having an STI won’t stop you starting on PrEP. Make an appointment with a good GP or sexual health clinic.

They’ll do your blood tests, a urine test, and a couple of butt and throat swabs and give you a script for three months worth of PrEP. Make another appointment with your doctor to come back in another 2-3 months before your PrEP is due to run out, and they’ll repeat the process.

Pretty simple.

Yes, even though there is more risk bottoming, tops can also acquire HIV. Uncircumcised tops have a slightly greater chance again. It’s true that tops can also experience anxiety about acquiring HIV. Being on PrEP certainly helps with that.

That depends.

If you are anxious about situations like condoms breaking, slipping off, not being applied correctly or doing head jobs without a condom then PrEP is still good for reducing your fear and anxiety. Some people just want an extra layer of protection and that’s fine. Some medical professionals also use PrEP to stop HIV infection if they get a needle stick injury. PrEP is incredibly effective and reliable. PrEP users report that they are letting go of fear they didn’t even know they carried.

Possibly. If you have an open relationship then we would say so. In the USA 68% of people who acquire HIV are in relationships. It’s a personal choice but the safest option is to use PrEP and then it’s a matter of trusting yourself and not needing to rely on others.

Truvada (the PrEP pill’s brand name that is produced by Gilead in the USA) was approved in 2004, so it’s been around for more than a decade. Before it was used as PrEP, it was used as treatment for people living with HIV (HiV Treatment) and those exposed to HIV as post-exposure-prophylaxis (PEP).

The major side effects that have been reported are a small percent of bone mineral density loss and sometimes a small reduction in kidney function.

Is it safe? Yes, absolutely. To put it into perspective, we can’t yet tell if it’s any worse over time than just ageing naturally. People all over the globe have been taking it for years for both treatment and prevention.

Concerned? Your doctor will check your kidney function as well as a HIV/STI screening every three months to make sure you’re all good, and they can monitor your bone density if you have concerns. It’s a normal part of getting your updated script each time. If you are concerned about any effect from taking PrEP then chat with your doctor.

That’s not true.

PrEP works by stopping the virus penetrating the cell and making copies of itself. If it can’t get into the cell then it can’t multiply. Mutations occur when the virus reproduces and it gets a chance to ‘learn’ and change. So essentially no infection = no mutation. If you’re taking your PrEP as prescribed then there’s no need to worry.

It’s important that you are not already HIV positive when you start PrEP. If the virus is already reproducing in your body then taking PrEP may cause some inconvenient problems with resistance and your doctor may have to try other medications. Your doctor will test to make sure you’re not HIV positive before you start PrEP.

Any doctor can prescribe PrEP, however not all regular GPs will know about it. Head over to our PrEP prescriber map to find a good one! If your GP isn’t prescribing PrEP we can send them some resources, and link them in with some great training - just show them our website and get them to contact us!

That depends!

The price of importing PrEP from overseas is the cheapest it has ever been, at around $20 per month including shipping.

For anyone unable to afford the cost of PrEP, we can help out with assistance coupons for anyone on a low income, or under financial hardship.

If you get PrEP through one of the various clinical studies going on across Australia, you may even get your PrEP for free or at reduced cost. Find out more on our Clinical Studies page.

Now that PrEP is on the PBS, we have even greater access options to get onto PrEP (see below)

From April1 2018 PrEP is available on the PBS. This means anyone with Medicare can pop down to the pharmacy with your script or PrEP and get it there! A month’s PrEP will be $39.50 for most people, or $6.40 if you have a concession card. If you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you’ll get an even better price. We’ve got a whole page on PrEP on the PBS you can check out for detailed information.

Nothing! You can still continue to import PrEP. In fact, importing is still cheaper for most people. However, you can choose to either import or access PBS PrEP - it’s all the same good stuff. The choice is yours.

No biggie. There’s still great ways to get onto PrEP. If you’re from overseas, have a look and see if you’re from one of the countries that have reciprocal healthcare rights with Australia, basically meaning you can access the Australian public health system. If not, you can import PrEP from overseas without needing to go through the PBS system. It’s around $20 a month (cheaper than the PBS actually!) and it will come right to your door. PAN also has assistance coupons for all people without medicare to get them free PrEP. You may need to pay for your appointment with your GP and possibly the tests they run every 3 months - if you have questions, please send us an email!

Importing PrEP has been done for years by people wanting good access. Currently it’s the cheapest way for many people to access PrEP, and it’s quite simple. You get your script and testing done regularly as normal, visit one of the recommended suppliers we have on the PAN website, upload your script and pay for your PrEP. Bam, it arrives at your home or work via the mail. Even though PrEP is on the PBS you can still import it yourself if you want to save the extra money!

PrEP works for all types of people, in fact anyone at risk for HIV can look into PrEP as a way to protect themselves. It’s not just for gay men. Women, trans, non-binary and people with an intersex experience can all look at PrEP!

If you are already HIV-positive, PrEP isn’t the tool for you.

Some people have minor side effects when starting PrEP, such as those with already reduced kidney function or bone density issues - but that may not stop you starting. Your doctor can talk about your options, and possibly start you and keep an eye on things more regularly.

That’s up to you!

We tell people about our choice to take PrEP to spread the good word that PrEP works and to try and end the HIV epidemic - but we are comfortable with being public. The more people who decide to use, and talk about their PrEP openly, the easier it gets

Telling people that you are on PrEP also lets them know that protecting yourself against HIV is important to you.

PrEP is fairly new in the toolkit,and it’s all about sex and our sexual choices so some people are a bit reserved about it. You’re not legally or morally required to tell anyone about PrEP, but you may find open and honest conversations around sex make you and your partners more comfortable, and closer.

It’s important to respect where other people are at on their safe sex journey so if your partners prefer to use a condom then that’s their right, and hey - if it means sex vs no sex, it’s good to be flexible. They don’t have to take your word for it that you are safe. Of course they could take PrEP themselves and then their safety is completely in their hands.

Current studies are showing that PrEP works well even if you miss a dose. It was shown that users who took PrEP at least 4 days out of 7 hadn’t acquired HIV. 7 is ideal, but don’t fret too much (or take an additional pill the following day) if you miss a day. We recommend that you stick to one pill a day though. Make it part of your daily routine. That gives maximum protection. If you’re not consistent then that’s where you can miscalculate and undo all your good work. So one pill a day keeps everybody happy, secure and safe.

Most people who take PrEP take it every day. For some people however, PrEP every day is too expensive, or they decide that they don’t need PrEPs protection every single day.

This might be if you only have sex with your partner, but then you want to go away for the weekend and open things up - and you want that protection when you’re playing with others. Or, maybe you’re single and ready to mingle - but you are super busy and maybe only get lucky once a month.

Scenario 1: A Single Boink.

You go out, you hook up, you have sex - done and dusted You can take two PrEP pills between 2-24 hours before you’re having sex, a single pill 24 hours after the first dose, and then a final single pill 24 hours after that. 2+1+1. So four pills in total. That booster of two pills at the start is thought to give good initial protection, and the following two individual pills keep you covered after the fact.

…Event based dosing can get a bit complicated depending on the sex you’re having however, so it’s definitely not for everyone.

Scenario 2: A Couple of Boinks

The sex is good, so you hang around - a bit more complex What if you have sex once, and then you have sex the following day again? Well thats easy, you just add an extra day on the end. 2+1+1+1. So five pills in total.

Scenario 3: A Boink, a Break, and a Boink

The sex was good, so you catch up later in the week If you have sex later in the week ( but not 7 or more days after the first sex) you can take one pill 2-24 hours before, and then another the day after, and the day after that. so 1+1+1. Three pills.

Scenario 4: A Boink this week and a Boink next week

The sex was good, you see him again soon - but work is super hectic right now! If you have sex more than 7 days after your last dose (in the 2+1+1 scenario), you need to start over - so take 2 pills before sex, then one the day after, and one the day after again.

Like we said, it gets a bit more complex, so if you’re having regular sex daily PrEP is probably the way to go, as you’ll end up taking the same amount of PrEP anyway.

We’re a bunch of PrEP users just like you. We each started using PrEP for our own individual reasons and for our own protection. Each of us believes that PrEP will play a huge part in ending HIV transmission. The Australian government has signed on to the target of ending HIV transmissions by 2020 – and we simply can’t do that without the two most powerful tools, PrEP and TasP. Access to HIV treatment is relatively easy and available here in Australia. Access to PrEP is not… yet!

Indeed they did. There have been a couple of reported cases of people seroconverting (becoming HIV positive) while taking PrEP as prescribed.

The first two people who became HIV-positive on PrEP contracted rare strains of HIV which are resistant to the two drugs in Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine).

A third person who seroconverted whilst on PrEP did not contract a resistant strain of HIV.

Why are these important?

Nothing is 100% effective (except death and taxes!). PrEP is an incredibly powerful tool for preventing HIV, and remains so. PrEP provided at least a 99% risk reduction for HIV infection. As advancements in HIV prevention surge forward new medications will be developed giving us more and more options to protect ourselves.

See  the Contact page for contact information, our pics and a little blurb from each of us about why we are motivated to help.

During our journey of discovery we found each other, but also two problems:

There wasn’t a lot of information or education about PrEP in Australia.  People had some very wacky ideas about PrEP, and…

Some of our friends who were students, pensioners, healthcare card holders etc. couldn’t afford PrEP.

We formed the PAN as [PrEPaccessNOW] committee to get some things moving.  We are working with a number of other HIV organisations to get information about PrEP out there.

GOT MORE QUESTIONS?
Awesome! We love questions.

You can send the committee a message asking us anything you want about PrEP. Don’t be shy!