Black and white image of a medication bottle laying open on a surface, with 5 pills spilling out

Monitoring HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake in Australia

The challenge

Australia is a world-leader of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) implementation. The first large-scale PrEP implementation trials began in Australia in 2016, and by 2018 more than 18,000 people started taking PrEP. PrEP was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in April 2018. The PBS subsidises the cost of PrEP for people eligible for Medicare in Australia. The cost to the patient for 30 pills as of June 2021 was $41.30 for general patients and $6.60 for concession card holders. Behavioural surveys suggest that increasing proportions of gay and bisexual men are using PrEP, but national data like those from the PBS are needed to understand the scale of PrEP uptake.

The project

This project uses data extracted from every PrEP prescription that is supplied in Australia as part of the PBS. We analyse and report on these data to provide information about the trends and patterns of PrEP use since its PBS listing.

The method

This project uses data from every PBS-subsidised PrEP prescription dispensed in Australia since 1 April 2018. The de-identified data incorporate unique codes for linking individuals. Variables include patient details (age, sex, postcode of residence, concession status), information about the dispensing (date of dispensing, quantity dispensed), and prescriber details (postcode, specialty). Data are presented on the total number of people who have ever initiated PBS-subsidised PrEP, as well as the number of people dispensed PrEP within each quarter. Data are disaggregated by age, and by state or territory of patient residence.

The results

PrEP in Australia has seen a rapid uptake since its listing on the PBS in April 2018. More details can be found in the ongoing reports listed below.

The impact

The data gained from PBS dispensing records for PrEP are the only national, comprehensive surveillance data on PrEP in Australia. These analyses inform researchers and policy makers about the uptake of PrEP in Australia.