Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a new and effective form of biomedical HIV prevention.
PrEP is one form of HIV prevention used by people who don’t have HIV and are at risk of acquiring HIV. When people have penetrative sex with other people, passing on HIV from one person to another can happen.
Taking PrEP can be as simple as taking one oral pill a day. Generally it takes about time to provide maximum protection from HIV but it’s important to consult with your doctor as waiting times for PrEP to become effective in preventing HIV may vary depending on your body. Current studies show that PrEP offfers very high levels of protection from HIV when taken as prescribed by your doctor.
Treatment as Prevention (TasP)
TasP refers to the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) used to prevent onwards transmission of the HIV virus. ART can dramatically reduce HIV viral load in semen, vaginal/ rectal fluids and blood to undetectable levels. In other words if someone is HIV+ and has an undetectable viral load it is virtually impossible to pass on the virus.
In Queensland 92% of gay men report an undetectable viral load, significantly contributing to HIV prevention within the community.
Condoms and Lube
Condoms are available in several varieties to suit personal preference. It’s important you choose the correct size to avoid breakage or the condom slipping off. When choosing condoms keep in mind it’s often the girth that is varied by manufacturers rather than the length.
A generous amount of water based or silicone lubricant is recommended during anal or vaginal intercourse to increase pleasure and prevent breakage. Re apply more lubricant when necessary. Never use oil based lubricants as the chemical composition of oil may weaken the condoms and also lead to breakage.
Risk reduction strategies include;
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Consistent condom usage
- Strategic positioning
- Viral load assessment
Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a course of antiretroviral drugs used to reduce the risk of HIV infection after potential exposure has occurred.
PEP is a four week treatment that may prevent HIV which is recommended following:
- A condom breaking or slipping off
- Sharing injecting equipment
- Sex without a condom
The sooner you start PEP the better but ideally within two hours – and no later than 72 hours after exposure may have occurred.
PEP is available from Public Hospital emergency departments, and sexual health clinics including Clinic 30 at QuAC at 30 Helen Street, Teneriffe Brisbane (07) 3017 1777.