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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).

  • PrEP is taken by people who don't have HIV to prevent infection
  • PEP is 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?

PrEP is recommended for:

  • men who have sex with other men and don’t always use condoms
  • heterosexual men whose partner is HIV positive and are trying for a baby
  • people who inject drugs
  • drug users who share injecting equipment
  • men and women who have sex with people who use drugs 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.

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Last reviewed: April 2020

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