News

10-04-2018

The ground-breaking HIV-prevention medication is now more affordable and accessible through your local GP for Australians after being listed by the PBS subsidised medication programme, 'the decision to list PrEP on the PBS puts Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV' said the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on the announcement of the decision to list the medication.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine ( ASHM) has a number of resources available for patients and GPS, including Australian PrEP guidelines at viruseradication.com, ASHM PrEP Clinical Guidelines and a two-page "how to" guide for decision making.

To assess who is eligible, it is important to check for those who are currently HIV positive ( the risk is that the HIV virus can become resistant to the PrEP medication, limiting treatment options later), and check kidney function due to the small chance the medication can further harm kidney function. The medication is 99% effective in HIV risk-reduction, PrEP does not protect against other STIs, hence the recommendation for 3 monthly regular STI screening. ( the risk reduction for HIV with consistent condom use is 70% for men who have sex with men and 80% for heterosexuals)

In its current form, two antiretroviral drugs are combined in a single tablet and PrEP is usually taken daily, but may be used effectively in an "on demand" fashion by taking it before and after sex.

The medication is usually well tolerated, one study found 17% of people experienced headache, fatigue and gastrointestinal upset initially, but the symptoms resolved over a few months. There were 5% who ceased the medication due to side effects. PrEP does have a small negative effect on kidney function and bone health, the changes are reversed when the medication is ceased. The current recommendations are for three monthly STI screen and renal function tests ( blood test), but not bone density scans.

 

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