Pre-exposure prophylaxis - hiv

Quick facts:

  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a treatment that people who are HIV-negative take to prevent getting HIV.
  • PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV when taken as prescribed.
  • PrEP only protects against HIV therefore condom use is still important for protection against other sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

PrEP for HIV is an ongoing daily treatment for HIV-negative people to prevent HIV before a risk exposure, such as condomless sex with an HIV-positive partner. Clinical trials have shown that taking PrEP is very effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.


HIV may be transmitted when blood, semen or vaginal fluid from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. This can happen through:

  • Unprotected sex – anal and vaginal
  • Sharing needles and injecting equipment contaminated with blood.

HIV may also be transmitted through donated blood products. However, all blood, organs, tissues and semen donated in Australia are screened for HIV. The risk of getting HIV from these products in Australia is very low. Donating blood or body parts does not put you at risk of HIV infection.

HIV can also be transmitted via mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.


Like any drugs, there may be some side effects when starting PrEP. Mild side-effects such as headaches and an upset stomach for a couple of weeks have been experienced by a small number of people. Many people get no side-effects at all. A small number of people may develop kidney problems. This is monitored by pathology testing every three months. Testing for STIs is also recommended every three months.

General practitioners can prescribe PrEP through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to Australian residents who have a Medicare card. People with a current Medicare card and script will need to pay a PBS co-payment towards the cost of dispensing the medication.

If you are not eligible for Medicare, the PrEP Access Now website provides information about the best ways to access PrEP.


  • Use risk-reduction practices until your HIV-negative status is confirmed at a follow-up appointment.
  • Risk reduction practices include:
    • safe sexual practices
    • safe injecting practices
    • preventing the exposure of others to bodily fluids
    • women should be counselled about pregnancy and mother-to-child transmission, contraception and offered emergency contraception if indicated.
Get qualified health advice 24/7 for the cost of a local call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

This factsheet provides general information and is not intended to replace the need to see a health professional or have a sexual health check. For more information on PreP for HIV or sexual health please talk to a healthcare provider. A doctor, nurse or health worker can assist with:
  • providing appropriate tests, treatment and information about how to prevent STIs
  • helping people to ensure that their sexual partners get tested and treated.

Other resources

  • For comprehensive information about safe sex, STIs, testing and treatment for young adults, see Stop the Rise of STIs. For videos and resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, see Young Deadly Free.
  • For information on PrEP in Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, or Vietnamese go to the StaySTIFree website. Other translated resources about STIs are available from the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland.