PrEP Decision Hits Hard in WA
PrEP Decision a Setback in Eliminating HIV in WA
The WA AIDS Council is disappointed in the decision of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee (PBAC) not to recommend the funding of Truvada™ for use as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Truvada™ taken once a day has been proven extremely effective in preventing HIV transmission. It was approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in May 2016. Already, Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have announced and implemented large scale PrEP programs funded by their respective governments.
In Western Australia no such program exists, and hopes were resting on a positive PBAC decision to at least partially address the disadvantage that Western Australians vulnerable to HIV are experiencing relative to their East Coast peers.
WA AIDS Council Chairperson Sam Hastings said today that this decision was a significant setback in achieving the virtual elimination of HIV by 2020. “Both our State and Federal Governments are committed to this goal, and PrEP is the most effective development in prevention we’ve seen in many years. That’s why other state governments are investing so heavily in making sure that as many people who both need and want PrEP can get it – our Government must consider doing the same.” he said.
New diagnoses of HIV remain stubbornly high in Western Australia at more than 100 per year, and gay and bisexual men account for over two thirds of this total. PrEP is considered vital for Australians at very high risk of HIV infection.
Despite this setback, Mr. Hastings is keen to point out that it is possible to get PrEP prescribed locally, however the high cost is an insurmountable barrier for many. “Our Government led the country in establishing an operational directive that encourages doctors to prescribe PrEP to those most at risk, but the cost and complexities of private importation are challenging” He said. He went on to say that the WA AIDS Council is working hard to make PrEP more accessible, but without political leadership and resources, results are limited.
“Our Government must talk to its counterparts in the Eastern States and negotiate participation of Western Australians in established PrEP Access programs. The ACT Government did this, and we should be doing the same” he concluded.
For media comment, please contact:
Sam Hastings, Chairperson WA AIDS Council 0433 144 105
Andrew Burry, CEO WA AIDS Council 0433 547 640
For comment on the national implications of this decision, please contact:
Bridget Haire, President Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations 0439 074 526