Q and A


Can I buy ARVs from a pharmacy without a prescription?

I am away a lot for work and find it hard to get to the clinic. Can I buy ARVs from the pharmacy? I live in South Africa.


Thanks for getting in touch and for letting us post your question online.

All countries are supposed to need a prescription to buy HIV drugs. This includes In South Africa.

In some countries you might be able to buy some meds over the counter without a prescription (even if it is not legal). If you can do this, please make sure that you buy exactly the same meds that you usually take.

If you’re having access issues, please talk to your doctor.

Explain your situation, ask to have a few months of meds, even up to six months. This is now common in many countries. Often this is because of COVID.

Things have changed now in many countries, including South Africa.

Instead of being given a month at a time it is more common to get med for 2-6 months.


  1. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Precious, as i-base is based in the UK I am unsure of the best way to access HIV medication in SA. Have you spoken to a pharmacist local to where you are staying? You can also contact TAC: https://www.tac.org.za/ TAC is a charity similar to i-base but based in SA and will be able to offer more suited advice.

  2. Precious

    Hie l’m in South Africa but my medication comes from Zimbabwe ,but the problem is the person who brings my medication is not available.can l get a prescription to buy in a Pharmacy.Thanks to those who are going to help.

  3. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Ziyanda, this depends on a number of factors. Mainly where you are, what medication, and why you need it. Most often medicines for specific conditions, inc. HIV require papers from a clinic or doctor for you to be able to access this.

    South Africa is looking to make HIV medication more accessible – accessing via a pharmacist and not a doctor. However as i-base is UK based I am unsure of the details. Tac is a SA charity that would be more suitable to contact if this is the case: https://www.tac.org.za/

  4. Ziyanda

    I want to know can I buy a medication in pharmacy whitout any paper from clinic or doctor

  5. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Elizabeth, i-base is UK based. In the UK you would not need to buy ARVs as they can be accessed for free. In other countries I am unsure of pricing and local policy for access. Where are you based?

  6. Elizabeth

    Hi can I buy ARV at Pharmacy with my clinic card?And How much?Im far from the clinic right now.

  7. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Maureen, i-base is UK based. As such I am less aware of policy in other countries to obtain ARVs. Dischem will be able to dispense ARVs but will require a prescription. In SA there is a move to allow pharmacists to dispense this medication without a prescription from a doctor but I am unaware if this legislation has passed as of today.

  8. Maureen

    Can I get arv from dischem?

  9. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Tholi, was your second exposure while you were taking Atroiza? If you were not you will need to start a course of PEP again. For this to work it is best you do this as soon as you can. Was this second exposure high risk? If this was low risk there would be no need to commence a second course of PEP. This link will help you figure out how risky this event was:https: https://i-base.info/guides/testing/risks-for-transmission

  10. Tholi

    Hi, I was exposed on STD in the past month, then doctor prescribed Altroiza for a month period, and i took the meds as prescribed. Now, i’m exposed again (condom broke), so I would like to know if its necessary to take the meds again?


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