WA AIDS Council disappointed PrEP not yet added to PBS

The Western Australian AIDS Council say they are disappointed that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s (PBAC) has decided to defer the decision on whether to list Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Negotiation between the PBAC and the manufacturers of the drug Tenofovir which is used in PrEP treatment appear to have stalled. The medication is best known by it’s brand name Truvada.

On Friday the PBAC announced it would be deferring it’s decision citing poor cost-effectiveness and consumer modelling.

Last year the PBAC knocked back an application for the drug to be listed on the PBS citing it’s high cost. In turning down the submission the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) also noted that people at high risk of contracting HIV who may not follow safe sex recommendations, might also struggle to remember to take a pill each day.

The WA AIDS Council says access to the drug is vital if Australia is going to achieve it’s goal of ending HIV transmission in the next three years.

“The Australian Government has made a world-leading commitment to virtually end HIV transmission in Australia by 2020, however we can only do this if we have access to the best prevention tools, which includes PrEP.” the organisation said in a statement.

PrEP taken once-daily is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission and has the potential to break the cycle of HIV transmission in Australia.

The council says that the evidence shows that for every thirteen people on PrEP, one HIV diagnosis is averted, and argues that to avoid many of the 1,100 HIV diagnoses that occur each year in Australia, Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) needs to be accessible through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The WA AIDS Council says the PBAC decision is frustrating but highlights that the proposal to add PrEP treatment to the PBS has not been ruled out.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations and its member organisations, including the WA AIDS Council, say they are committed to closely studying the information released by PBAC to understand why the deferred decision was made.

“While the decision is frustrating for our communities, it is important to remember that a deferred decision is not a ‘No’, and a positive recommendation could be reached by December.

“We are calling on the PBAC to gather the additional information they need and to meet as soon as possible to reach a positive recommendation.” The WA AIDS Council said.

NSW latest report shows major drop in diagnosis, access to PrEP credit as major factor

Today New South Wales released their latest figures relating to HIV diagnoses which showed a major drop in the amount of people discovering they have the virus.

The amount of new diagnosis of HIV have plummeted in the state, a development credited to widespread access to PrEP treatment, regular testing and the early uptake of treatment.

NSW’s leading HIV prevention and HIV support organisation, ACON, welcomed the release of the latest quarterly NSW HIV Data Report from the NSW Ministry of Health, which has seen the lowest rate of new HIV notifications since 1985.

According to the Report, there were 101 new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in NSW in the first six months of 2017, and this is the lowest since 1985 when HIV surveillance began.

New HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in NSW continued to fall, marking 12 months of steady decline and is 25% less than the average of the previous five years.

The state was one of the first in Australia to begin as PrEP trial, giving many gay men access to the medication, and raising awareness of the positive outcomes of regular testing across the community.

Western Australia will commence a PrEP trial later this year.

Graeme Watson

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