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New drug approved for HIV prevention

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The Kirby Institute at UNSW has welcomed the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of antiretroviral drug Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Australia.

The Kirby Institute at UNSW welcomes the announcement that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved the use of Truvada, an antiretroviral therapy currently used to treat HIV, to be prescribed in Australia as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people who are HIV negative but at high-risk of contracting the virus.

This announcement comes as Australian leaders in HIV prevention, including researchers, health service providers, community organisations and state and territory health providers meet at the Kirby Institute to discuss the national implementation of PrEP as a strategy for the elimination of HIV transmission in Australia.

“There is an overwhelming body of evidence that supports the use of PrEP as an effective HIV prevention strategy,” said Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention program at the Kirby Institute. “Last year our PrELUDE study found that PrEP is feasible in real life situations.”

“Today we have key representatives from every state and territory in the country meeting at the Kirby Institute to discuss national guidelines and clinical practice for the use of PrEP,” said Professor Grulich.

“For a fraction of the cost of treating someone for HIV, PrEP has the potential to prevent hundreds of new HIV infections in Australia. This is why PrEP is a game-changer in HIV prevention. TGA approval of Truvada for PrEP is a vital step in ensuring that people who want to use PrEP can access it.”

Director of the Kirby Institute, Professor David Cooper has been working in HIV prevention and treatment for more than 30 years. “For the first time since the beginning of the epidemic we are realistically talking about ending HIV transmission in Australia,” said Professor Cooper. “This is an exciting time for HIV prevention.”

“The next step is to ensure that the treatment is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so that it is affordable and provides equitable access to those who need it,” said Professor Cooper.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is considering funding Truvada for PrEP at its July meeting.

Darryl O’Donnell, Executive Director of Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) also welcomed the approval and urged the government to list the drug on the PBS: “We have a national, bipartisan commitment to virtually eliminate HIV transmission in Australia by 2020. That’s only four years away, and although we have a long way to go, affordable, PBS-listed PrEP would make all the difference.

“Without PBS listing, this is a wasted tool. The government must urgently fund PrEP in order to prevent many of the 1,100 HIV diagnoses that occur every year.”

(Source: UNSW)

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Dates

Posted On: 16 June, 2016
Modified On: 16 June, 2016

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