Learn More About PrEP
What is PrEP?
“PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, with “prophylaxis” meaning “to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease.” PrEP is a HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take a pill every day to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV.
PrEP contains two antiretroviral medicines that are also used to treat people who already have HIV infection, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate also known as “TDF” and emtricitabine also known as FTC (in combination known as TDF/FTC). These are the same drugs used to suppress the virus in people living with HIV. You may know this medicine by its brand name, Truvada, however there are generic forms of the drug with the same active ingredients. PrEP must be taken every day in order to be effective. If doses are missed it may reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
In terms of HIV prevention, you can think about PrEP in a similar way to condoms. When condoms are used correctly and consistently they provide a high degree of protection against HIV, but if they are not used consistently your risk of contracting HIV increases dramatically. Condoms – like PrEP – can’t protect you if they’re not being used! PrEP is not a vaccine and only provides protection from HIV so long as you continue to take it as prescribed. However, unlike condoms, PrEP does not protect you against other sexually transmitted infections.
Who will benefit from PrEP?
PrEP is a HIV prevention option that may be considered by anyone who is at risk of acquiring HIV. However, some groups of people have been identified as benefiting the most from PrEP due to being at high risk of HIV infection. These groups include gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and heterosexual people with an HIV positive partner who does not have an undetectable viral load.
Guidelines for PrEP use have been developed for NSW and Australia and are based on the US Guidelines. The Australian Guidelines have been endorsed by Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the peak body representing and supporting HIV clinicians. Your clinician will refer to those Guidelines when discussing whether PrEP will be of benefit to you.
If you do not fall within the recommended Guidelines but feel that you would benefit from accessing PrEP, you can discuss this with your clinician. There are alternative options to access PrEP and more information can be found at: www.endinghiv.org.au/nsw/stay-safe/prep or call PrEP Info Line 1800 451 624.
Information and Resources about PrEP
PrEP has been available for use in the United States since 2012 and a number of organisations and individuals have been providing information about PrEP and the experience taking it.
Please note that some of the information contained in these websites is specific to the US.
These are intended to supplement your knowledge about PrEP but the best way to find out more about using PrEP in NSW and the ACT is to talk to your clinician.
The following websites contain more info and the experiences of people taking PrEP:
EPIC-NSW PrEP Factsheets are available for download in 8 different languages.
To learn more about the EPIC-NSW study, click here.