Another gay man has come forward claiming he was unable to access HIV-preventative medication from his local health centre due to ignorance of proper procedure from medical staff.
Following the Star Observer’s report last week on a major hospital refusing to prescribe PEP medication to an at-risk gay man, a second man has claimed he was unable to access the medication from multiple regional health centres.
20-year old Orange man Joseph*, whose name has been changed, claims that on Saturday, June 23 last year he was unable to access PEP medication from Orange Base Hospital as medical staff were unsure what the medication was.
Joseph immediately attempted to make an appointment with a local sexual health clinic, but was not seen for three days. When Joseph finally gained access to the clinic, he was told their PEP medication was out of stock.
He was only able to start on the medication three days after contact because he was able to access leftover pills from a friend.
Joseph found the experience extremely surprising.
“I spoke with a lot of medical students in the area, they said that knowledge of PEP medication should be standard in major hospitals, no matter where they are,” he said.
In a statement, Orange Base Hospital said: “We have PEP medication available 24 hours a day in our on-site pharmacy, including after hours. Our staff are aware of PEP medication and we have policies in place for people who request it.”
Last week the Star Observer reported that Sydney gay man Stephen* (also not his real name) had been denied access to PEP medication at Royal Prince Alfred Emergency department in Camperdown, despite being at risk of having contracted HIV.
On Thursday January 10 Stephen sent a letter of complaint to the RPA detailing the incident and requesting that RPA emergency staff be properly educated and trained in the prescription of PEP medication.
“The refusal of RPA Emergency to provide me with PEP not only caused me significant anxiety and distress but prolonged the time it took me to finally access some preventative medication,” Stephen wrote in the letter.
“The effectiveness of PEP is highly dependant on the timeframe between exposure to receiving the medication.”
While Stephen requested a written response from RPA in the letter, at the time of writing RPA had not received it. RPA have refused to comment on the matter until they receive Stephen’s letter.
NSW Health guidelines recommend PEP medication be prescribed to anyone with a HIV-contraction risk greater than one in 15,000. When he contacted a doctor at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, Stephen was informed his contraction risk could be as high as one in 160.