HIV treatments have dramatically changed the experiences of people living with HIV. A person who is diagnosed in the early stages of HIV infection and begins treatment shortly after diagnosis will usually have a similar life expectancy to their HIV-negative peers. However, every person is different, so the experience of living with HIV will be based on the interaction of many factors including:
- How advanced the HIV infection is when a person is diagnosed.
- How well a person looks after themselves emotionally and physically.
- Decisions about HIV treatments.
- How well treatments work for the individual.
- Factors based on physiology and genetics.
- Co-infection with other illnesses.
If you are also diagnosed with hepatitis B or C, visit the Hepatitis SA website for more information.
PEP is a 28 day course of medications which can prevent HIV infection following an exposure to HIV. HIV PEP must be started within 72 hours of the risk exposure. Effectiveness is considered to be greater when PEP is started as soon as possible.
The South Australian HIV PEP hotline 1800 022 226 is available 24 hours a day to triage any member of the public who believes they may have been exposed to HIV. Calls are answered by a Registered Nurse who will conduct a risk assessment based on the information provided by the caller. Individuals who have had a significant risk exposure to HIV will be directed to the nearest HIV PEP access point.
All metropolitan Adelaide public hospital emergency departments are HIV PEP starter pack access points. In rural areas, emergency departments of key regional hospitals are HIV PEP starter pack access points.
For more information visit the SA Health website.
PrEP is a medical HIV prevention method where people who are HIV negative take medication to reduce their risk of contracting HIV. The medication most commonly used in PrEP and PrEP trials around the world is Truvada®, a pill that contains a combination of two antiretroviral medicines: tenofovir and emtricitabine. Truvada® is also one of a number of medications used to suppress the virus in people living with HIV.
Several clinical trials such as the Proud study have shown PrEP to be extremely effective in preventing HIV infection. Along with other prevention methods like condoms, PrEP can offer protection against HIV if taken as prescribed.
PrEP has been approved for use in Australia but is not yet available at a subsidised price through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). It can currently be obtained through:
- A private script from a doctor to import a 3 month supply of Truvada® for individual use, costing approximately $10,000 per year.
- A private script from a doctor to import a 3 month supply of a generic form of PrEP for individual use, costing approximately $5,200 per year.
- Participation in a clinical PrEP trial (not available in South Australia).
If you would like to know more about PrEP, check out SAMESH’s PrEP Fact Sheet.