Oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which involves HIV-negative people taking combination antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infection, was subsidised by the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in April 2018. GPs and HIV/sexual health specialists are key actors in prescribing PrEP to ensure maximal coverage of populations at risk of acquiring HIV, particularly gay and bisexual men. However, little research has been conducted in Australia to explore the various factors which shape the context and experience of prescribing PrEP.

This four-year qualitative study was undertaken as part of Anthony K J Smith’s PhD thesis. The study aimed to understand the effects of PrEP on clinical practice in a time of rapid change. Qualitative interviews were undertaken with 28 clinicians – including sexual health nurses and doctors, and general practitioners – involved in prescribing PrEP in New South Wales and Western Australia in 2019-2020. The study has deepened our understanding of how clinicians engage with new areas of practice and negotiate new technologies, clinical guidelines, uncertainty, risk and the complex lives of patients.

Four papers were published from this research in the peer-reviewed literature, along with a research report which contains a summary of the key findings and study recommendations.

Research Centre

Centre for Social Research in Health

Research Area

HIV and Sexual Health | Sexuality, Health and Education

Smith, A. K. J., Haire, B., Newman, C. E., Cornelisse, V., Kidd, M., Lobo, R., Smith, D., Post, J., & Holt, M. (2022). PrEP in Practice – Research Summary Report: A Qualitative Study Investigating the Perspectives of Clinicians who Prescribe PrEP in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health. https://doi.org/10.26190/DH7V-GX71

Smith, A. K. J., Haire, B., Newman, C. E., & Holt, M. (2021). Challenges of providing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis across Australian clinics: Qualitative insights of clinicians. Sexual Health18(2), 187–194. https://doi.org/10.1071/SH20208

Smith, A. K. J., Holt, M., Haire, B., & Newman, C. E. (2021). Issues Associated With Prescribing HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Anxiety: A Qualitative Analysis of Australian Providers’ Views. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care32(1), 94–104. https://doi.org/10.1097/JNC.0000000000000219

Smith, A. K. J., Newman, C. E., Haire, B., & Holt, M. (2021). Clinician imaginaries of HIV PrEP users in and beyond the gay community in Australia. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2021.1957152

Smith, A. K. J., Newman, C. E., Haire, B., & Holt, M. (2022). Prescribing as affective clinical practice: Transformations in sexual health consultations through HIV pre‐exposure prophylaxis. Sociology of Health & Illness44(7), 1182–1200. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13502

Bridget Haire, Kirby Institute

Advisory Panel
Christopher Camacho
Ric Chaney
Aaron Cogle
Catherine O’Connor
Vincent Cornelisse
Roanna Lobo
Michael Kidd
Garry Kuchel
Jessica Michaels
Lewis Marshall
Anna McNulty
Nicolas Parkhill
Jeffrey Post
Shaun Powyer
Don Smith

Related people

Professor, Research Director (Compliance and Capacity Building) Martin Holt
Professor, Research Director (Compliance and Capacity Building)
Professor and Associate Dean (Engagement and Impact) Christy Newman
Professor and Associate Dean (Engagement and Impact)