What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of anti-retroviral medication to reduce the risk of
acquiring HIV. This medication is called Truvada. If taken every day this medication reduces
your chance of acquiring HIV by upwards of 90%.(1)
That means that if you had receptive anal sex with an HIV positive individual, which has a risk
of 1.38% of contracting HIV, this will reduce to 0.138% which is a similar risk to insertive anal
However, PrEP must be taken every day to be effective and will not protect you from other
sexually transmitted infections.
Where can I get PrEP?
For more information on where to get PrEP, see here
What is Post-Exposure Prophylaxis?
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is the use of anti-retroviral medication following a potential
exposure to HIV to reduce the risk of becoming infected. PEP is only effective within 72 hours
of exposure and is most effective if taken as soon as possible. It is a course of medication
similar to what people with HIV take, but for PEP it is only taken for four weeks.
Where can I get PEP?
PEP is only available from hospital emergency departments or the Royal Perth Sexual Health
Clinic or Fremantle Hospital Sexual Health Clinic. For more information on where to get PEP,
1. Grant RM, Lama JR, Anderson PL, McMahan V, Liu AY, Vargas L, et al. Preexposure
Chemoprophylaxis for HIV Prevention in Men Who Have Sex with Men. N Engl J Med. 2010
HIV/AIDs in Australia
In Australia, a total of 22 694 people were estimated to be living with diagnosed HIV in 2015
increasing by 9% from the estimate of 20 768 in 2013. (1) 1 813 of these people live in
Western Australia, with approximately 23% female. From 2011-2015, 48% of newly
diagnosed HIV infections were in MSM.(2)
In WA, newly diagnosed HIV occurred at a rate of 4.2 per 100 000 people. This is compared
to other blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, which was diagnosed at a rate of 3 per 100
000, and chlamydia which was diagnosed at a rate of 432 per 100 000 people.(2)
1. The Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia
Annual Surveillance Report 2016. The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney NSW 2052.
Available from: https://kirby.unsw.edu.au/report/annual-surveillance- report-hiv- viral-hepatitis-
2.Epidemiology of STIs and BBVs in Western Australia [Internet]. [cited 2017 Jun 20].
Available from: http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Epidemiology-of- STIs-and- BBVs-in-
HIV is a death sentence
When treated by modern anti-retroviral medication, HIV has become a chronic illness with life
expectancy nearly the same as those without the disease. That’s why it is so important that
people get tested, with treatment helping to prevent many complications of HIV and also
reducing the chance of transmitting to others.
HIV only affects gay people
While in Australia the majority of those living with HIV are men who have sex with men
(MSM), this is not the case on a global scale. Of the 37 million people living with HIV,
approximately 47% of them are women.
You can tell if someone has HIV
HIV infection is commonly asymptomatic following infection and many people will continue to
be asymptomatic until many years after they were infected. Some of the symptoms that
someone has recently contracted HIV include: flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue and sore
joints), lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes), rash, headache, sore throat. These
symptoms are very common to a number of diseases and are therefore not reliable for
diagnosing HIV infection. This is why it is important to have regular blood tests and to have
screening tests if you are concerned you are at risk of becoming infected.
If I have sex with someone with HIV I am guaranteed to get it
Depending on the circumstances, the risk of HIV transmission on any given sex act varies
from approximately 1 in 114 to nearly zero risk.
HIV and the Law
Protection of those with HIV against discrimination comes under the Equal Opportunity Act
1984 which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person who has an impairment.
Having HIV is considered to be an impairment for the purposes of discrimination law even if
you do not have an HIV related illness or AIDS.
The current health laws in Western Australia do not specifically deal with sexual transmission
of HIV. These laws do not require you to disclose your HIV status to your sexual partner.
However, if you transmit HIV to a sexual partner you may face criminal charges for
transmission of the virus. If an HIV positive person transmits the virus they may face charges
of grievous bodily harm and face a jail term of up to 10 years. The Criminal Code imposes a
duty to take reasonable care and use precautions to avoid endangering the life, safety or
health of any person. This is often interpreted as always practising safe sex and taking
precautions to prevent transmission to your sexual partners.
In contrast to WA, the NSW Public Health Act 2010 makes it clear that a person who knows
they have HIV is guilty of an offence if he or she has sexual intercourse with another person
unless, before intercourse takes place the other person has been informed of this and
voluntarily accepts the risk of contracting HIV. This is similar to the laws in Tasmania.
http://halc.org.au/publications/guides-to- hiv-and- the-law/