Access to sexual health services after the rapid roll out of the launch of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV in Melbourne, Australia: A retrospective cross-sectional analysis

Rob Needleman, Eric P.F. Chow, Janet Mary Towns, Vincent Jasper Cornelisse, Tim Yang, Marcus Chen, Catriona S. Bradshaw, Ria Fortune, Christopher K Fairley

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Background: On 26 July 2016, Victoria began a large study of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, called PrEPX, that involved the creation of around 2600 appointments over 3 months across multiple sites in Melbourne, Australia. At this time, the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) appeared to have a larger demand on its services. The aim of the present study was to determine whether this apparent increase in demand was substantially different from other demand fluctuations. Methods: Patients presenting to the MSHC from 2014 to 2016 were reviewed. Demographic characteristics, sexual risks and sexually transmitted infection diagnoses were extracted from the clinical database. Results: There were 115 522 walk-in presentations for care and a rise in presentations in the week following the launch of the PrEPX study, but at least six similar peaks occurred that year. The peak coinciding with the launch of PrEPX was only apparent for men who have sex with men. There was a substantial increase in the proportion of patients who could not be seen (i.e. triaged out), from 10% in the week before PrEPX to 22.2% in the second week after, but this was primarily due to staff absences. At the time of the PrEPX study, data were collected on the duration of symptoms for common conditions and found no significant (P > 0.29) change in the average duration of symptoms compared with that seen before the PrEPX launch. Conclusions: The increase in the number of medical consultations required for the PrEPX study did not result in excessive demand for public sexual health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-532
Number of pages5
JournalSexual Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • HIV
  • Sexual health
  • Health service
  • Access
  • PrEP
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • Gay men
  • men who have sex with men
  • Sexual health clinic

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