Last updated April 18, 2018 at 9:21 am
The revolutionary HIV medication is up to 99% effective against the spread of the virus.
The Australian government is to subsidise pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP through its Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The oral medication, taken daily, dramatically reduces the chances of being infected with the HIV virus for those who are HIV-negative but at high risk.
Unsubsidised, Truvada, the commercial name for PrEP, costs up to $10,000 a year. With government support, the cost falls to less than $500 a year.
High risk groups include gay and bisexual men, transgender people, and heterosexual people with a HIV positive partner with an undetectable viral load.
Truvada is a combination of two drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine). It is listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
PrEP is currently also available in Australia through state government and health organisation trials. It was announced this morning that those currently on trials in Victoria will be able to continue so until 30 June 2018.
Australian AIDS diagnoses are already extremely low in Australia thanks to effective anti-retroviral therapy. However, HIV infection continue to be a national concern as part of a global strategy to eliminate HIV/AIDS.
Data form the Kirby Institute’s 2017 Annual Surveillance Report, shows that at the end of 2016, an estimated 26,444 people were living with HIV in Australia.
“PrEP is a life-changing drug, and in conjunction with a number of other HIV prevention strategies, it will continue to play a pivotal role in ending new HIV infections.
“The recommendation for PrEP to be listed on the PBS is a big step forward in ensuring widespread and equitable access to this medication for all Australians at high risk of HIV,” said Stefanie Vaccher, a PhD candidate and Research Officer (HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program) at The Kirby Institute, UNSW who studies adherence to HIV PrEP.
A national target to end new HIV infections in Australia by 2020 is outlined in the Seventh National HIV Strategy 2014-2017.
It will give increased security to those who are at risk, plus greater access through affordability will help Australians in the fight against HIV.