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February 28, 2021

HIV drug PrEP to qualify for govt subsidy

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The cost of a drug aimed at stopping the spread of HIV is about to be slashed.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily drug recently recommended for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which would significantly reduce its price.

It is 99 per cent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV among gay and bisexual men and from April will be available to high-risk general patients for just $39.50 a month.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement on Wednesday amounts to a government subsidy of $180 million.

Until now access to PrEP has been patchy, prohibitively expensive and mainly accessed through clinical trials, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations says.

“This will drive a substantial reduction in transmission and allow us to turbo-charge the Australian HIV response,” federation CEO Darryl O’Donnell said in a statement.

The federation argues investment in HIV prevention also makes excellent financial sense, with each averted transmission of HIV saving the taxpayer one million dollars in lifetime costs.

Under the listing, patients will receive a three-month prescription and a sexual health check on each visit to the GP.


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