PrEP access criteria is widening

From 1 July 2022 access criteria for PrEP is being widened to allow more people to get PrEP. Note some content on this page may be out of date until we can update this section. Please click the link to read information from PHARMAC. Learn more

PrEP

Rongoa ī mua te huranga

PrEP is an extremely effective HIV prevention method.

When taken on a daily basis, PrEP ensures there is enough anti-HIV medication in the body to significantly reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV if exposed during condomless sex. 

There are currently two recommended ways of taking PrEP: daily PrEP and PrEP 2-1-1.

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

 

Access for people eligible for publicly funded healthcare

PrEP is a publicly funded medicine in New Zealand. This means that anyone eligible for funded healthcare may be able to get a 3-month supply of PrEP for up to $5.

If you believe PrEP may be right for you, then your first step is to visit a doctor for a PrEP consultation. The doctor will make sure that PrEP is the right choice for you by having a conversation about what it does and if you think you'll be able to fit PrEP into your daily routine and commit to regular check-ups.

Check out our online map that shows PrEP-friendly doctors in New Zealand. This will involve some tests and can take a little time, so please be patient. Once everything is approved, you will be able to get a three-month supply of PrEP for only $5.

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Get PrEP online for $19.95

If you're not currently on PrEP then you can get an initial Online PrEP consultation for only $19.95. 

 

Access to PrEP for people not eligible for publicly funded healthcare

The first step of sourcing PrEP on your own is to get a prescription. Check out our online map that shows you doctors around New Zealand who know how to prescribe PrEP. This will involve a conversation about whether PrEP is right for you and some tests. 

Going to the doctor to get a prescription will mean you will have to pay a standard fee for the initial clinician visit/s. Also, PrEP requires three-monthly check-ins for HIV and STI testing, and prescription renewal, so you’ll need to be prepared to pay for this every three months. 

Once you have your prescription, there are a few options for you to access PrEP: importing it yourself, or purchasing it directly from a pharmacy. 

 

Importing PrEP

With a prescription, you can import generic versions of PrEP from overseas for personal use. This involves uploading a prescription for PrEP from your doctor in New Zealand, and purchasing the drug online. Currently, this costs around $50 - $220 per month, plus delivery and money conversion costs.  

It is important when importing your own supply that you purchase PrEP from a legitimate website - we can recommend the following:

 

Purchasing directly from a pharmacy

With a prescription, you can purchase PrEP directly from a pharmacy at market price. We expect this price will be around $15 per bottle, plus pharmacy markup. Contact your closest pharmacy to see if they have stock.

 

Can't afford to self-fund PrEP?

The cost of self-funding PrEP can be prohibitive for some people who need PrEP, which is why a free coupon system has been created. Find out more here.

 

Taking PrEP

If you’re already taking PrEP, you might have questions or want to be connected with a support system of other people taking PrEP. Visit this page for our best information to guide you on your journey of taking PrEP, including the differences between daily PrEP and PrEP 2-1-1.

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PrEP 2-1-1, what you need to know.

If you’re having infrequent sexual encounters or only need to take PrEP for a short time, on-demand could be an effective HIV prevention option for you.⁠

How long does it take for PrEP to be effective?

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If you're using daily PrEP to provide protection during anal sex, you need to take it daily for 7 days prior to any sex without condoms to ensure that the levels of the drug have built up to provide enough protection.  You also need to continue taking it daily for 28 days following the last episode of anal sex without condoms for maximum protection.

Cisgender gay and bisexual guys can also start it with a double dose (two pills at once, and continue with single pill every 24 hours), and the protective effect should kick in after two hours. If you keep having sex then keep taking a PrEP pill each day. After you’re done having sex, keep taking a pill each for two days after the last episode of sex.  

What’s the difference between PrEP and PEP?

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PrEP and PEP are both HIV medications taken by people who do not have HIV. 

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an HIV medication for people who are HIV negative - taken to significantly reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication given to people who may have been exposed to HIV. Although PEP is not foolproof, if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV, it is likely to reduce the chances of contracting HIV. For PEP to be most effective, it needs to be taken as soon as possible after an episode of unprotected anal sex.

I was chatting to a guy on Grindr and he said it's safe to have sex without a condom because he's on PrEP. Is it really safe?

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It's great that he's taking action to reduce his risk of getting HIV by using PrEP, but him being on PrEP is not a 100% guarantee that he hasn't got HIV. He may, for example, have stopped taking it for a period of time and unknowingly acquired HIV. So you're still at risk unless you're taking action to protect yourself either by using condoms or taking PrEP yourself. Keep in mind that PrEP doesn't protect against other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea or Hep C, and you won't always know if someone has another STI because they can have no symptoms. Using condoms is the best option for protecting against both HIV and other STIs, but if you struggle with condoms then PrEP at least will provide protection from HIV.

PrEP Information for Clinicians

If you are a clinician interested in learning more about PrEP, we have helpful guidelines, learning modules and resources for clinicians wanting to prescribe PrEP. 

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