NAPWHA calls on federal government to implement national access to HIV prevention drug
The national peak organisation for people with HIV, the National Association of People With HIV Australia (NAPWHA) calls on the federal government to urgently implement national access to a prevention drug for people at high risk of acquiring HIV.
Called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, research has shown that HIV-negative partners of HIV-positive people who take the pill Truvada daily can reduce their risk of picking up HIV to virtually nil.
At a World AIDS Day event in Canberra on December 1, Health Minister the Hon Sussan Ley MP made encouraging comments regarding PrEP access incentives announced by state health departments, including the EPIC trial in New South Wales (1) and new prescribing guidelines in Victoria (2).
“HIV is a national issue,” said Cipri Martinez, President of NAPWHA. “And NAPWHA is strongly advocating for PrEP to be made available Australia-wide.
"While its manufacturer Gilead has placed an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for approval, it will be at least mid-next year before there is a response.”
Without a PBS listing, people must pay up to $13,500 per year to access the drug for this purpose.
NAPWHA calls for national leadership to enable all Australians at risk of HIV to have equal access to PrEP until the PBS listing is finalised.
• Australia has committed to United Nations targets of virtual elimination of HIV by 2020.
• In Australia, an estimated 27,150 people are living with HIV.
• The number of HIV infections newly diagnosed in Australia has remained stable for the past three years, with 1,081 cases in 2014, 1,028 in 2013 and 1,064 in 2012.
• Based on these newly diagnosed cases, the main route of HIV transmission in Australia continues to be sexual contact between men, which accounted for 70% of the cases in 2014.
• This year is the 34th anniversary of the first confirmed case of HIV, and to date, 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide and 39 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
(1) NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Jillian Skinner, chose World AIDS Day to launch the EPIC-NSW trial, making NSW the first state in Australia to implement a rapid and large-scale trial of this HIV prevention strategy. 3700 high-risk mostly gay and bisexual men will be enrolled through the state-wide network of public sexual health clinics, potentially preventing almost 150 new HIV infections in these men over a one-year period. This trial is sponsored by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia. Drug supply is partially provided by Gilead Sciences. Recruitment is expected to commence by Mardi Gras 2016. Further information about the trial can be found at: www.endinghiv.org.au/nsw/epic
(2) Launching World AIDS Day 2015 at the Doherty Institute, Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, announced new guidelines on access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.
The new guidelines will support Victorian HIV general practitioners to prescribe off-label PrEP to high-risk individuals until it is approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
For more information contact:
Cipri Martinez, President, NAPWHA, 0421 482 584
Aaron Cogle, Executive Director, NAPWHA, 0468 438 214