PrEP drug wasted unless PBS listed

AIDS awareness ribbon in hands

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has welcomed the TGA decision to register a drug for HIV prevention as a major milestone towards ending HIV transmission.

AFAO is now calling on the federal government to urgently list Truvada on the PBS, so that it affordable for Australians at risk of HIV.

Darryl O’Donnell, Executive Director of AFAO, says that Truvada is already available as a treatment for HIV-positive people, but registration for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could make an enormous difference to the community.

“In registering Truvada, the TGA has confirmed that this is a safe and effective way of preventing HIV transmission through sex. Truvada is a pill taken once a day by people who don’t have HIV, but who are at high risk,” O’Donnell says.

“Truvada has already been approved for HIV prevention in a number of countries, backed by an overwhelming body of international research.

“This is a revolutionary development in the fight against HIV. We know condoms work. Now we also have a pill that works. Just as the oral contraceptive transformed millions of women’s lives, HIV PrEP can transform the lives of those at risk of HIV.

“Truvada as PrEP gives people at risk a powerful new option for taking control of their health. It puts them in control to stay HIV negative.”

O’Donnell says AFAO has been strongly advocating for Truvada as PrEP over a number of years, and the announcement today will be celebrated.

He says while the news today is positive for the community, the work must continue to make PrEP affordable, especially given the limited resources of those who can be at risk of HIV.

“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,” O’Donnell says.

“Without PBS listing, the cost of filling a Truvada script is prohibitive. The registration of Truvada as PrEP is a step in the right direction, but now we must make it affordable.

“Without PBS listing, this is a wasted tool. The Government must urgently fund PrEP in order to prevent many of the 1100 HIV diagnoses that occur every year.”

AFAO will continue advocating strongly for Truvada to be considered by the PBAC quickly, in the interests of public health and to achieve Australia’s goal of ending HIV transmission by 2020.

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