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Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP refers to the use of HIV medication by people who are HIV-negative in order to reduce their risk of HIV infection.

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

The HIV medication used contains two antiviral medicines, Tenofovir and Emtricitabine. Sometimes this is called Truvada, however the generic version in New Zealand is now supplied by Teva. These are the same drugs used to treat and suppress the virus in people living with HIV.   

For more information about using PrEP to prevent HIV, including how to access PrEP in New Zealand, please visit our Ending HIV website.

PrEP advocacy

NZAF believes PrEP has a key role to play in achieving our goal of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand. Our work on PrEP has included:

  • Advocating for a Ministry of Health position on PrEP and the inclusion of PrEP in the New Zealand Sexual and Reproductive Health Action Plan;
  • In collaboration with Auckland Regional Sexual Health Service, University of Auckland School of Population Health and Body Positive, developing the NZPrEP study in Auckland;
  • Collaborating with the New Zealand Sexual Health Society, Medical Protection Society, clinicians, lawyers and community stakeholders to develop a document that provides medicolegal safety for all concerned parties relating to the prescribing and importation of generic medicines for use as PrEP;
  • Collaborating with ASHM and DHB sexual health clinicians to develop training and resources to improve PrEP knowledge among GPs; 
  • Developing PrEP community forums and education resources to improve PrEP knowledge among those at highest risk of HIV;
  • Submitting an application to PHARMAC for public funding of PrEP to those at highest risk of HIV infection;
  • Advocating for research to measure current PrEP knowledge, use, intention to use, and other behavioural data. This information will enable us to estimate how many gay and bisexual men in New Zealand would benefit from using PrEP and model what impact PrEP could have on reducing rates of HIV infection;
  • Advocating for PHARMAC to widen the PrEP prescriber group from being limited to HIV specialists to include sexual health and infectious disease specialists and vocationally registered nurse practitioners and general practitioners who have undergone appropriate training, to enable greater access to PrEP nationally.

Featured FAQs

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 reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by up to 99%.

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.

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.  

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