The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee agreed with a submission from NAPWHA, AFAO, ASHM and the Kirby Institute that all people with HIV should now have access to antiretroviral drugs (ARV) through thePharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, regardless of someone's CD4 count.
The agreement came into effect in April 2014 removing the barrier which limited ARV access for people with CD4 counts of 500 and above unless they had clinical symptoms.
A number of countries around the world have already removed such restrictions to receiving ARVs after research showed there were significant long-term health benefits for PLHIV who chose to treat early.
‘Estimates are that only around 50% of Australians diagnosed with HIV are on treatment,’ says Bill Whittaker, NAPWHA Special Representative. ‘This is well below the target of 90% endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers last July.
‘By empowering people to be able to choose when they want to commence treatment, we are likely to see an increase in treatment uptake,’ he said.
People with HIV are encouraged to talk with their doctor or consult the NAPWHA website for more information about the benefits of early HIV treatment.
See related article: 'The HIV top 10'.