A recommendation that the HIV prevention drug PrEP be approved for public subsidy has been hailed as an essential step in Australia’s response to HIV.
Researchers from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney welcome the recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) that antiretroviral therapy for the prevention of HIV transmission be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The therapy, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, is a pill that when taken daily by people at high risk of HIV will prevent them from contracting the virus. While it is currently available in Australia, the cost is prohibitive. Most people can only access PrEP through research trials, such as the Kirby Institute-led EPIC-NSW trial.
Professor Andrew Grulich, co-chief investigator on the EPIC-NSW trial, said the announcement was an essential step in Australia’s response to HIV.
“PrEP has been a game-changing tool for HIV prevention. I applaud PBAC for this recommendation and am hopeful the Australian Government will quickly make this life-saving medication accessible to the more than 30,000 people in Australia who are at high risk of HIV. It places Australia in a very strong position to be the first country in the world to virtually eliminate HIV transmission.
“While the PBAC recommendation brings us an exciting step closer to equitable and affordable PrEP access, it may be some months before PBS-funded PrEP is publicly available. Anyone currently receiving PrEP through a trial should continue to take their medication,” said Professor Grulich.
(Source: UNSW Sydney)