What is PrEP?

HIV PrEP (HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) involves taking antiviral medication to prevent getting HIV infection. 

The medication used is tenofovir 300mg and emtricitabine 200mg, combined into a single tablet. The medication is usually taken as a single tablet daily dose, but there is interest in using the medication in other ways. 

Does it work?

PrEP has been shown to be effective at reducing HIV acquisition in multiple clinical trials, and many people on the Gold Coast are interested in accessing it to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.

How do I access PrEP?

In Australia, the medications for PrEP are not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This means that PrEP users must either pay the private cost for the medications (currently around  $750 per month), or import their own supply of generic medication from overseas (currently around $75 - 100 per month). Importation of prescribed generic medications for personal use is legal under the TGA’s personal importation scheme, and is the most common way people in Australia are accessing medications. There is a well-defined pathway for importing the medication through the PrEPaccessnow website. 

This is how it works step-by-step:
  • Consultation with Dr Aitken (referral is required for the initial consultation)
  • Blood tests and other tests are organized 
  • Return for results, discussion and prescription
  • Order medications online
  • Return for review and safety tests one month after commencing PrEP
  • Return every three months for safety monitoring blood tests, review and ongoing prescription

​ Can I access free PrEP?

Queensland Health has announced an expansion  of the QPrEP Study from 50 to 2000 places. This involves the supply of free Truvada for participants. The commencement dates for the expansion have not been announced, but it is anticipated that interested participants will be able to register their interest online. Dr Aitken looks forward to participating in the QPrEP Expansion. 

Is PrEP safe?

The clinical trials of PrEP have shown it to be well-tolerated and safe. There is a need to monitor kidney and liver function by blood tests while taking PrEP. This can be done every three months after the initial commencement phase. There are ongoing trials examining the safety of PrEP in the longer term, and researchers are particularly interested in the effect on kidneys and bone density. 

Dr Stuart Aitken has been an authorized prescriber of antiretroviral drugs under the Section 100 Highly Specialized Drugs Scheme since 2000. He has extensive experience with prescribing antiretroviral medicines, and is particularly interested in providing a safe and respectful medical environment for people who are interested in accessing PrEP, and supporting people who might be at risk of HIV. 

For more information about PrEP click here

For more information on the TGA click here

For more information on Truvada click here