HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the regular use of HIV medications by HIV-negative people to prevent HIV acquisition. People at high risk of HIV are eligible for PrEP. In Australia, some sexually active gay and bisexual men, transgender people and heterosexual people with an HIV positive partner who does not have an undetectable viral load are population groups that are at high risk. Research shows that the medication used for PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission among these population groups.
On 21 March 2018, the Federal Minister for Health announced that PrEP will be subsidised by the Australian Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 April 2018. For more information about what this means please see the AFAO PrEP Factsheet.
Transgender women living with HIV may be hesitant to use antiretroviral therapy (ART) or not take it as prescribed because of concerns about drug interactions with feminising hormones, according to a presentation at the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) last month in Paris.
"We don’t want to look back in 30 years and realise we missed the opportunity to make history by eliminating new HIV transmissions."
Even though there has been a major drop in new HIV cases in major Australian states, new research suggests there is a long way to go to end HIV.Australia has committed to ending new HIV transmissions by 2020, but the Critical Steps Towards Addressing HIV research found it has a lot of work to do to achieve that goal.
Daily pills may become a thing of the past for people who have HIV. A long-acting injection has been found to work just as well or better than standard pill-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) at preventing the virus from bouncing back and becoming infectious again.
At the end of a two-year trial of 286 people with HIV, 94 per cent of those who had injections of the long-acting therapy every eight weeks had the virus under control, defined as having less than 50 copies of the virus per millilitre of blood. A monthly form of the injection was effective in 87 per cent of those who had it, while standard ART pills worked for 84 per cent of those who took them.