Today’s announcement that PrEP will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 April 2018 has been welcomed by NSW’s leading HIV and LGBTI health organisation, ACON.
“This listing of PrEP on the PBS is very important as it finally gives affordable access to the highly effective HIV prevention drug to people across Australia,” ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said.
“We are thrilled this milestone has been achieved. Widespread access to PrEP is critical if we are to meet our goal of ending HIV transmissions in NSW so we commend the Australian Government on this decision.
“Combining PrEP with high HIV testing rates among gay men, strong treatment uptake among people with HIV and the continuing high rates of condom use gives us the tools to deliver the biggest reductions in HIV transmission rates in NSW in three decades.”
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an antiretroviral medication taken by HIV negative people at high risk of acquiring HIV to prevent infection. Studies have shown that PrEP is extremely effective, and recent demonstration projects in Australia, such as the Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW (EPIC-NSW) study, have shown PrEP is both a desirable prevention option and extremely effective for people at risk of acquiring HIV.
PrEP was approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration in May 2016, but without federal subsidy, the proven technology has been too expensive for most people.
“We know that PrEP works and today’s announcement will ensure those who would benefit most from PrEP will now be able to access it in an affordable way,” Dr Koonin said.
“Our community has demonstrated that it is ready to incorporate PrEP into their lives as part of the range of HIV prevention options that we now have available.”
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill congratulated the NSW Government for the leadership it has shown in Australia’s HIV response.
“We are very fortunate to have strong and unwavering support from the NSW Government, including through the development and funding of the EPIC-NSW study, which has now enrolled more than 9000 people,” Parkhill said. “We commend them on their investment in improving the health of our community, and thank them for their support of programs and services that back up their bold vision to end HIV.”
Parkhill urged people taking PrEP either through the EPIC-NSW study or through personal importation to continue taking PrEP as usual and to speak to their healthcare provider before making any changes to their PrEP routine.
“Over the coming weeks and months, ACON will be communicating the changes to PrEP access to the community,” Parkhill said.
Parkhill thanked gay men for their ongoing commitment to preventing HIV transmissions.
“Gay men in NSW have consistently shown that they’re committed to ending HIV and have adopted the use of new technologies such as PrEP as soon as they have become accessible,” Parkhill said.
“ACON salutes gay men, both HIV positive and HIV negative, for their commitment and action to end HIV transmission. We remain steadfast in our commitment to further driving down infection rates.” —