Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

2-minute read

Over the past few years, there have been some important new developments in the prevention of HIV infection. In particular, there is now a tablet that you can take daily to reduce your risk of becoming infected if exposed to HIV. This type of medication is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP.

What is PrEP?

PrEP is an anti-HIV medicine taken by a person who does not have HIV to lower their risk of infection.

Although they sound similar, it's important not to confuse PrEP with PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) should not be confused. PrEP is taken by people who don’t have HIV to prevent infection. PEP is a short course of anti-HIV medicines taken by someone who might have been exposed to HIV, with the aim of preventing infection.

For more information on PEP, visit the get PEP website.

Who should consider taking PrEP?

You should consider taking PrEP if you are at high risk of being exposed to HIV. People at high risk of becoming infected by HIV include:

  • men who have sex with other men and don’t use condoms
  • drug users who share injecting equipment
  • men and women who have sex with drug users without condoms
  • men and women whose partners have HIV

If you fall into one of these categories, you might want to talk to your doctor about PrEP. You must be HIV negative before you start taking PrEP. Your doctor will check your HIV status and risk of infection and also discuss with you the possible side effects.

Effectiveness of PrEP

PrEP lowers the risk of infection with HIV if you take it every day, starting before exposure to the virus.

Note that if you are already infected with HIV, taking PrEP does not reduce the risk of transferring the virus to other people through sexual contact or blood.

Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP can be obtained with a prescription from your doctor. It is subsidised by the Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card.

More information

For more information visit:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

PrEP - Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

HIV Prevention: PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the use of anti-HIV medications by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV

Read more on AFAO – Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) - Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) refers to the use of anti-HIV medications by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

Read more on AFAO – Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website

PEP - Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is a 4-week course of anti-HIV medication that is shown to be effective in preventing HIV infection if started within 72 hours

Read more on AFAO – Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website

Blood Borne Viruses - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Blood Borne Viruses There are a number of blood borne viruses (BBVs) that can be passed from person to person via injecting drug use, or as a result of risky behaviour from alcohol and other drug use [23505]

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

HIV / AIDS | Play Safe

Despite what a lot of people think, HIV and AIDS arent actually the same thing. If HIV is left untreated it can develop into AIDS. Here's everything you need to know about preventing and treating HIV and AIDS.

Read more on NSW Health website


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is an infection that attacks the immune system and weakens the bodys ability to fight infections.

Read more on WA Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo