With the Sydney Mardi Gras nearly upon us again, we thought we would bring your attention to HIV preventative drugs now available in Australia called PrEP and PEP.
Lets face it, being the party of the year with over 12000 LGBTQI people from all over the globe spreading the love in more ways then one, promiscuity resulting in HIV & STI transmissions seem to be more prevalent then ever.
So what if there was a way to play it safer in regards to HIV?
For those of you who have never heard of the word PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) this is a HIV preventative drug when taken daily (just like the contraceptive pill) reduces the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%.
Know as Truvada, this medication has been used to treat HIV positive patients for many years and in 2009 a large study showed that this same drug was not just good for treatment but as a preventative. PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) however is like the morning after pill for those who think they may have been exposed to HIV. It is a 4 week course of anti-HIV treatment drugs.
WHAT do we need to know?
So here is some simple guidelines on this medication:
WHO is this for?
It is for HIV negative people who may be at risk of HIV such as;

  • MSM – Men having Sex with Men
  • Injection drug users
  • Transgender
  • Women who have a sexual partner who are either drug user, having sex with men or of African decent (due to high HIV positive rates within African based cultures)

BEFORE use As only 10-20% of people living with HIV actually know they have the virus all people must have a blood test first to check this plus show that the persons kidneys are working well.
HOW OFTEN DO I TAKE IT? Daily just like a woman would take the contraceptive pill.
SIDE EFFECTS Upset stomach, loss of appetite and mild headaches are common but leave after a few weeks. There are no known common long term affects however a handful of people did have affects to kidneys and bones density which is why these tests are done a 3 monthly basis.
HOW LONG TILL IT STARTS TO WORK  It takes 1 week to work however it is still important to use a condom for the prevention of other STI’s
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? 99% prevention is administered properly in comparison to the usage of condoms which is 70%
HOW MANY MONTHS SCRIPT DO I GET Your doctor will only provide you will a script for 3 months. Every 3 months you will need to have a full blood check up including a kidney check as this drug can affect not just your kidneys but some are susceptible to decreased bone strength
WHAT IF I WANT TO STOP TAKING IT You should take it for a further 28 days after any partner potential exposure
As this drug is not yet subsidised by the government it costs over $2000 for a 3mth supply however there are reputable USA websites to purchase this drug from and import at a cheaper rate with a maximum 3mth dosage subscription.
Melina Macdonald
Intimacy & Adult Product Lifestyle Educator, Author, Speaker Dating & Sex, Love & Intimacy Expert www.sacredpotential.com
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