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PrEP

Rongoa ī mua te huranga

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an extremely effective HIV prevention method.

Pre-Exposure means it needs to be taken before sex – and Prophylaxis is a scientific term for something that prevents an illness.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the planet are already taking PrEP, and clinical studies have shown that if PrEP is taken every day it reduces the risk of acquiring HIV by up to 99%. This means that a person on PrEP can have sex with anyone, regardless of their HIV status, and their chance of contracting HIV is extremely low.

But it’s really important to remember that PrEP doesn’t prevent any other STIs, like syphilis or gonorrhea - so it’s a good idea to keep condoms in the mix to protect from these.

 

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP isn’t for everyone – if you’re using condoms every time you have casual sex, then great! You probably don’t need to be on PrEP. But there are lots of reasons that people might not use condoms every time they have sex – and for these people, PrEP is the best prevention option available.

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I don’t want to have to worry about my partners’ HIV status

PrEP is an HIV prevention option that can be considered by anyone who is at risk of acquiring HIV. If taken as prescribed, PrEP is extremely effective at preventing the acquisition of HIV from sexual partners.

I want to be able to have sex anywhere, anytime

If taken as directed, PrEP is proven to be highly effective at preventing HIV acquisition - which means you can make the most of the heat of the moment. Remember that PrEP doesn’t protect you against other STIs, so condoms are still an important prevention tool that you can use while taking PrEP. Also, there’s some forward planning required if you’re going to take 2-1-1.

I’m not eligible for funded healthcare in New Zealand

If you are not eligible for publicly-funded PrEP, there are options available to you, however there will be a cost. Burnett Foundation Aotearoa offers access to free PrEP for international students. However, you will still need to pay for your appointments and regular testing.

You can also import generic versions of PrEP from overseas using a prescription from a New Zealand doctor, or buy it directly from a local pharmacy at a similar price.

I’m worried about the cost

If you're eligible for funded PrEP, the cost of the medication should be $5 for a three-month supply, plus the cost of a GP visit every three months.

In addition to the initial GP visit/s and prescription fee, PrEP requires three-monthly check-ins for HIV and STI testing, and prescription renewal - so, this will involve a standard GP visit fee.

If you cannot access publicly funded PrEP, Burnett Foundation offers access to free PrEP for international students and low income NZers. However, you will still need to pay for your appointments and regular testing.

I don’t want to take medication when I’m healthy

Taking a medication like PrEP doesn’t imply you aren’t healthy. It's a preventative measure to keep you healthy if you are likely to be having condomless anal sex with casual partners.

The potential side-effects are experienced by a small proportion of PrEP users and for people having unprotected casual anal sex, the risk of HIV acquisition is greater than the risk of side-effects.

I don’t want to talk to my doctor about sex

Though a doctor might not be high on the list of people you want to talk to about your sex life, it’s really important to try to be open and honest with them in order for you to stay as healthy as possible. Remember, what you say to a doctor will be confidential and they will uphold your privacy.

Check out our strategies for talking to a doctor about sex, or get help finding a PrEP-friendly provider.

I’m worried about side effects

While most people will breeze through taking PrEP without noticing anything, some may experience side effects. These side-effects are usually mild and go away after the first month on PrEP.  Some reported side effects can include: gas, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, and low energy.

Read more about potential side effects here.

I want to have sex without condoms

PrEP is extremely effective at preventing HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP can be your own personal bodyguard. But it’s really important to remember that PrEP doesn’t prevent other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea, so condoms are still an important prevention tool.

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