New Zealand has just become one of only a few countries in the world to publicly fund PrEP and the price for patients is ridiculously cheap.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a HIV-prevention treatment. It has been proven to be very effective at stopping the transmission of HIV.
Pharmaceutical company Gilead Science’s manufactures Truvada, the drug which makes up the PrEP treatment.
Truvada will be available at a subsidized rate from 1 March to people at high risk of acquiring HIV.
New Zealand’s government agency that decides which pharmaceuticals to publicly fund, PHARMAC, announced last year it wanted to fund PrEP as a HIV-preventative drug.
The cost of a quarterly prescription will be NZ$5 (US$3.60) which works out to be about US$1.20 a month.
Until now PrEP has cost around US$731 per month in New Zealand. Many PrEP users resorted to importing their medication from overseas for about US$36 per month.
‘Providing affordable access to PrEP for those who need it will make an enormous difference to those most at risk of HIV transmission in New Zealand,’ said New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s (NZAF) executive director Dr Jason Myers.
‘It’s a giant leap forward for our ambitious goal of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025.’
‘For those who struggle with consistent condom use – which can be for a range of legitimate reasons – NZAF is delighted that there will now be publicly funded access to this effective, alternative way of staying safe from HIV for those who need it.’
Trans men and HIV
Another massive win for NZAF was PHARMAC’s decision to follow its advice and include trans men as being eligible to access the subsidized PrEP.
The NZAF said it was a very important step in addressing one of the health inequalities faced by trans men.
‘We are also extremely heartened to see that PHARMAC took on board suggestions to expand funded PrEP access to include transgender men who are at high risk of HIV,’ Myers said.
In 2016 New Zealand recorded its highest number of new HIV cases ever in one year, with 244 people diagnosed.
Other countries to subsidize PrEP are Brazil, France, Norway, Brazil, Belgium and Scotland.
New Zealand GPs
The NZAF has compiled a list of GPs in the country who know a lot about HIV and PrEP.