Access to HIV medication for PLHIV ineligible for Medicare

1 Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

Travellers from 11 countries can access their essential medical care including medication at the PBS subsidised rate during their time in Australia. Requirements will vary with each country.

For more details please visit Health Care for Visitors to Australia (external link)

or click here to download a Printable Resource: ‘Accessing HIV Medication for PLHIV without Medicare’


2.Import your personal HIV medication from your home country (Personal Importation Scheme)

While you’re in Australia, you can arrange to have your own HIV medication to be posted to you from your home country under Australia’s Personal Importation Scheme. This involves arranging for a medicine to be sent to you from an overseas supplier or family/friend and allows for three months of medication at a time.

You will need a letter as well as a prescription from the prescribing doctor in your home country. The letter will need to state the medication is for a medical condition. You might be asked to produce both the letter and prescription to pick up the parcel.


3 Import from an online chemist (Personal Importation Scheme)

You can import your HIV medications from an online chemist using the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme This scheme allows people to purchase generic brands of HIV medications from an online chemist for their own personal use. This means that PLHIV who are ineligible for Medicare can access medication at a cost that is substantially lower than if they purchase brand-name ART medication from Australian pharmacies.

When you purchase and import HIV medication for your personal use, there are a number of conditions you must comply with. Click here for more information The medicines are only to be used by you and must not be given to any other person. You can import a maximum of a three month supply with a valid Australian-issued prescription from an Australian S100 prescriber (specialist HIV doctor).

Online purchases of medicines must be approached with caution. You need to ensure that the website is legitimate and offers safe and reliable medication; otherwise there are risks that it is past the use-by date or not manufactured to appropriate standards. The World Health Organisation (WHO) approves safe and reliable HIV medications and purchasing WHO approved generic medications, means you can expect high levels of efficacy.

Three reputable online websites include:


4.NSW Health HIV Clinics and Sexual Health Clinics

PLHIV can access ongoing care for your HIV by attending either St Vincent’s Hospital or The Albion Centre or one of the many sexual health clinics within NSW to get help. The clinicians (doctors) in these clinics are able to support PLHIV with the monitoring of their viral load, CD4 and other blood tests.

If you need support in this process you can call a Positive Life Treatment Officer on 1800 245 677 (freecall) or (02) 9206-2177.


5. Clinical Trials

On very rare occasions PLHIV who are Medicare ineligible can access HIV medication by being part of a clinical trial. This will be heavily reliant on the availability of the trial, the type of trial it is and your visa status. Direct contact with the clinicians (doctors) at these services can help identify current availability, eligibility and relevant clinical trials:

  • St Vincent’s Hospital (02) 8382 3707
  • The Albion Centre (02) 9332 9600
  • Taylor Square Private Clinic (02) 9331 6151
  • Holdsworth House (02) 9331 7228


6. Compassionate access

Pharmaceutical companies will sometimes provide free medication on compassionate grounds to PLHIV who are ineligible for Medicare. These applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee that this option will always be available. You might need a letter from your doctor confirming you need the medication and explaining why you can’t access HIV medication in other ways. 

If you need support in this process you can call a Positive Life Treatment Officer on 1800 245 677 (freecall) or (02) 9206-2177.


More information about Medicare Eligibility

Medicare Eligibility

Healthcare for visitors to Australia

Find your nearest Medicare Office

HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC)

HIV Positive Migration Guide

Australian Immigration Specialists

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