PrEP FAQs

Is PrEP for tops?

Yes, even though there is more risk bottoming, tops can also acquire HIV. Uncircumcised tops have a slightly greater chance again. It’s very true that tops can also experience anxiety about acquiring HIV. Being on PrEP certainly helps with that.

Didn't some people get HIV on PrEP?

Indeed they did. There have been three documented cases of people seroconverting while taking PrEP as prescribed.

The first two people who became HIV-positive on PrEP contracted rare strains of HIV which are resistant to the two drugs in Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine).

The third person who seroconverted whilst on PrEP did not contract a resistant strain of HIV.

Why are these important?

  1. Nothing is 100% effective (except death and taxes!). PrEP is an incredibly powerful tool for preventing HIV, and remains so. PrEP provided at least a 99% risk reduction for HIV infection.
  2. As advancements in HIV prevention surge forward new medications will be developed giving us more and more options to protect ourselves.
If I'm in a relationship, do I need PrEP?

Possibly. If you have an open relationship then we would say so. In the USA 68% of people who acquire HIV are in relationships. It’s a personal choice but the safest option is to use PrEP and then it’s a matter of trusting yourself and not needing to rely on others.

Are there long term effects from taking PrEP?

Truvada (the PrEP pill’s brand name that is produced by Gilead in the USA) was approved in 2004, so it’s been around for more than a decade. Before it was used as PrEP, it was used as treatment for people infected with HIV or exposed to HIV (it contains molecules that are used in HIV drugs). The worst side effects that have been reported are one percent bone mineral density loss and reduced kidney function. Is it safe? Yes. To put it into perspective, they can’t tell if it’s any worse than just getting older. People in the USA have been taking it for years.

Your doctor will check your liver and kidney function as well as a HIV/STI screening every three months to make sure you’re ok.  It’s a normal part of getting your updated script each time.  If you are concerned about any effect from taking PrEP then chat with your doctor.

Someone told me PrEP could cause HIV to mutate?

That’s not true.  PrEP works by stopping the virus penetrating the cell.  If it can’t get into the cell then it can’t multiply.  Mutations occur when the virus reproduces.  So essentially no infection means no mutation.  It’s important that you are not already HIV positive when you start PrEP. If the virus is already reproducing in your body then taking PrEP may cause some inconvenient problems with resistance and your doctor may have to try other medications.  Your doctor will test to make sure you’re not HIV positive before you start.

Should I tell people i'm on PrEP?

That’s up to you.  We tell people about our choice to take PrEP to spread the good word that PrEP works and to try and end the HIV epidemic but we are comfortable with being public. Telling people that you are on PrEP also lets them know that protecting yourself against HIV is important to you.  PrEP is new and about sex and our sexual choices so some people are a bit uptight about it.  You’re not legally or morally required to tell anyone.  It’s important to respect where other people are at on their safe sex journey so if your partners prefer to use a condom then that’s their right.  They don’t have to take your word for it that you are safe.  Of course they could take PrEP themselves and then their safety is completely in their hands.

I consistently use condoms, can I get PrEP as extra protection?

Yes. If you are anxious about situations like condoms breaking, slipping off, not being applied correctly or doing head jobs without a condom then PrEP is still good for reducing your fear and anxiety.  Some people just want an extra layer of protection and that’s fine.  Some medical professionals also use PrEP to stop HIV infection if they get a needle stick injury.  PrEP is incredibly effective and reliable. PrEP users report that they are letting go of fear they didn’t even know they carried.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

Current studies are showing that PrEP works well even if you miss a dose.  It was shown that users who took PrEP at least 4 days out of 7 hadn’t acquired HIV.  We strongly, and I mean STRONGLY, recommend that you stick to one pill a day though.  That gives maximum protection.  If you’re not consistent then that’s where you can miscalculate and undo all your good work.   So one pill a day keeps everybody happy, secure and safe.

Why are you guys promoting PrEP?

We’re a bunch of PrEP users just like you.  We each started using PrEP for our own individual reasons and for our own protection.  Each of us believes that PrEP will play a huge part in ending HIV transmission.  The Australian government has signed on to the target of ending HIV transmissions by 2020 – and we simply can’t do that without the two most powerful tools, PrEP and TasP. Access to HIV treatment is relatively easy and available here in Australia. Access to PrEP is not… yet!

See “The Team” for contact information, our pics and a little blurb from each of us about why we are motivated to help.

During our journey of discovery we found each other, but also two problems:

  1. There wasn’t a lot of information or education about PrEP in Australia.  People had some very wacky ideas about PrEP, and…

  2. Some of our friends who were students, pensioners, healthcare card holders etc. couldn’t afford PrEP.

We formed the PAN (as PrEPaccessNOW) committee to get some things moving.  We are working with a number of other HIV organisations to get information about PrEP out there.

Got more questions?

Awesome! We love questions.

You can send the committee a message asking us anything you want about PrEP. Don’t be shy!