State government leaders have criticised the Australian Federal Government for not making PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) more accessible.
At a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday morning the leaders said it was time to fund PrEP. The council is made up of the heads of Australia’s states and territories.
They argued funding PrEP would help reach the target of virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions by 2020.
PrEP is a HIV preventative treatment and is awaiting approval to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). A listing on the PBS would mean PrEP is more affordable and accessible.
Five Australian states – Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland – have or will soon commence PrEP trials. The trial provide treatment to thousands of people at high risk of acquiring HIV.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy lead the call to push the Federal Government into action.
‘It is extremely disappointing that once again the Federal Liberal government are delaying and refusing to take the action required to make this life-saving drug more affordable and accessible for people at risk of HIV,’ she said.
‘PrEP is critical to achieving our goal of virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020 but we can’t do it alone.
‘Our funding boost will mean the hundreds of Victorians waiting to access PrEP won’t have to wait any longer.’
PrEP trials grow
The Victorian Government also announced a further $100,000 of funding to its PrEPX trial. The extra funding which will give 600 more people access to PrEP.
The Victorian AIDS Council also called on Federal Government to fund PrEP access nationally.
‘This further commitment from the [Victorian] Government is an important step, but now we need the Federal Government to take action,’ said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.
‘The fact that so many are enrolling in the trial shows real motivation by the public to take responsibility their sexual health and the prevention of HIV transmission.
‘At this stage, the Federal Government needs to acknowledge that community demand and demonstrate their commitment to making PrEP accessible and affordable to everyone as quickly as possible.’