PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
PrEP COMMUNITY UPDATE
WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PrEP?
Being educated about safe sex practices that fit into your lifestyle is the best way to equip yourself against HIV and STIs. Building up your ‘safe sex toolbox’ with prophylactic equipment like condoms and PrEP will assist you in making the best decisions for your health and wellbeing.
WHAT IS PrEP?
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis or “PrEP” is the use of anti-retroviral medication by people who do not have Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), but who are at considerable risk of getting it, to prevent the acquisition of the HIV infection. The medication, called Truvada™, is made up of a combination of two antiretroviral medicines. These drugs are also used to suppress the virus in people who live with HIV.
WHO SHOULD TAKE PrEP?
Clinical trials have established that PrEP is effective in reducing the chances of acquiring HIV amongst populations who are at high risk of HIV acquisition. PrEP can be considered for gay and other homosexually active men who are having multiple events of condomless sex with partners of unknown HIV status.
Under some circumstances, PrEP may also be considered for heterosexual adults or injecting drug users. The decision to use or not use PrEP is an individual’s choice. There are clinical guidelines that clinicians can use when recommending PrEP to patients, so it is important to be informed about PrEP when talking to clinicians
HOW DOES PREP WORK?
Truvada™ has been shown in a number of clinical trials to be highly effective in reducing the chances of acquiring HIV if it is used correctly. This means taking one tablet each day, every day. Truvada™ needs to be taken for some days before it provides an effective barrier to HIV. The evidence isn’t clear on how long, but current indications are up to4 days.If you stop taking Truvada™, HIV resistance will decline rapidly. Despite the effectiveness of PrEP, it is recommended as a complementary strategy with other prevention strategies, such as the use of condoms.
IS PREP AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA?
Yes. People living on the East Coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne), have access to PrEP through participation in one of the several ongoing clinical trials. You must be a resident in these states to take part in these trials.
Truvada™ has been licensed in the United States for use as PrEP; however in Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has not approved its use here. This means that the drug is not available at a subsidised price unless it is prescribed specifically as a treatment for people who already have HIV. Your doctor can prescribe Truvada™ for you under what is known as an “off label” prescription. This refers to a drug that is prescribed for a condition for which it does not have TGA approval. Without the subsidy that TGA approval can offer.
A year’s supply of Truvada™ is estimated currently to be approximately $13,500. A full year’s supply of a generic version of Truvada™ would currently cost you approximately $1,300, or about 90% less than the locally provided version.
HOW CAN I GET PrEP IN THE NT?
The first step should be to meet with a clinical service experienced with HIV, such as the Clinic 34 or Northside clinic in Coconut Grove or a GP. A discussion with the staff will help you decide whether PrEP is suitable for you, and you can also get more information about how to access the medication at more affordable prices.
If you have decided that PrEP will work for you and your circumstances, NTAHC can give you names of doctors who will provide you with an “off label” prescription. Once you have this, you have the opportunity of purchasing a generic version of
Truvada™ from a reliable overseas supplier. A generic drug is one that is of the same composition as the branded version, but sold at a significantly lower price.
Accessing most drugs overseas via the Internet is perfectly legal in the NT, provided that;
• They are for your personal use
• They are not supplied to any other person
• They are imported into Australia, accompanied by a valid
• They cover no more than a three-month period at the recommended dose
Importing drugs in Australia is covered under “Australia’s Personal Importation Scheme for Medicines”. For further details and any other conditions, visit the TGA website: www.tga.gov.au/importing- mail-or-courier.
The NTAHC can offer you step-by-step guidance on accessing PrEP from a reliable overseas supplier.
FINDING OUT MORE
Come to our PrEP Forums in Alice and Darwin- see the poster.
Clinic 34 is a free community sexual health clinic. To discuss PrEP and your sexual health, you can call for an appointment (Phone: 8999 2678) and have a frank and open discussion with staff.
Both the NTAHC and the Clinic 34 and Northside Clinic firmly believe in your right to make your own decisions about your health, and our role is simply to ensure that you have all of the information to make those decisions
The information contained in this webpage does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Call NTAHC to discuss with the Care and Support staff. Darwin: 8944 7777; Alice Springs 8953 3172