How Do You Get Onto PrEP?
When you’ve made the decision that PrEP may be a drug for you, it’s important to get in contact with a doctor. Here in Australia, PrEP has to be prescribed by a medical doctor. You cannot order it online without a prescription. So, this is an opportunity for you to have a talk with your doctor about your own circumstances and your own particular risks of infection with HIV. Before persons can start taking PrEP, it’s very, very important that we check a couple of parameters.
First things first, we need to be absolutely sure that you are not HIV positive. For this reason, we will do HIV testing before you start. If you have had a potential exposure to HIV close to the time that you want to start taking PrEP, we may need to do HIV testing a little bit more frequently to be 100% sure that you are not HIV positive. If you are HIV positive starting PrEP, it’s not ideal and you need to be on HIV treatment rather than HIV prevention.
Other tests that we routinely do when starting PrEP is that we want to make sure that you are not infected with hepatitis or other sexual transmitted diseases. At the start of every person starting PrEP, I like to do a kidney function test, hepatitis A, B, and C. I also do a full sexual health screening and this includes a swab of the throat for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, a swab of the bum for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, a urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, as well as bloods for HIV, syphilis and as I said we do check for also hepatitis A, B, and C status.