Today’s decision to recommend PBS listing of the HIV prevention pill, PrEP, is a historic moment for HIV prevention Australia wide, and one welcomed by the Queensland AIDS Council.
PrEP is a pill that if taken daily, is extremely effective at preventing HIV transmission. It was approved for use within Australia in May 2016 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Today’s decision to recommend PBS listing means that PrEP will be available and affordable to people most at risk of HIV through their GP, with local pharmacies being able to dispense PrEP.
Whilst PBAC has recommended PBS listing for PrEP, the actual date of access through the PBS (the listing date) has not been announced, but we expect this date to be within the first half of the 2018 calendar year. Until we reach this access date, people in Queensland can access PrEP through the QPrePd study.
Thousands of Queenslanders are already using PrEP daily to reduce their risk of HIV transmission. The QPrePd study, announced by the State Government in 2016, has been very successful at getting PrEP to people most at risk of HIV transmission, and has already contributed to HIV prevention efforts across the state.
The Queensland AIDS Council encourages any people who are currently not on PrEP, who feel they are at risk of HIV transmission, not to wait for the PBS listing date as the QPrePd study still has spots available now. People enrolled on the QPrEPd study will ultimately transition to access through the PBS, whilst people accessing the initial QPrEP study will still have access to PrEP through their study arrangements until 2020. QPrEPd Study information can be found at http://www.comeprepd.info/qprepd-project/.
“Today’s announcement is undoubtedly a breakthrough for HIV prevention in Australia, and will likely be a turning point from which we see the decline of new HIV transmissions Australia wide” said Michael Scott, Executive Director of Queensland AIDS Council.
“Whilst PrEP will not be available through the PBS immediately, we urge people not to put off accessing PrEP now. Anyone considering accessing PrEP now should not wait for a PBS listing date, as PrEP is free and accessible through the current QPrEP study”.
“We know that PrEP is very effective, but it is only one of the pieces to the puzzle of HIV prevention. A range of prevention messages including condom reinforcement, PrEP and Treatment as Prevention, along with an appropriately funded workforce to deliver HIV prevention messages must be sustained” said Scott.
Further efforts will now be needed to reinforce three monthly testing for HIV and STIs well beyond listing of PrEP on the PBS. Whilst affordable access to PrEP is welcome news, we cannot step away from health promotion around PrEP and reinforcement of testing and treatment of STIs.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has developed a useful fact sheet summarising today’s announcements. The fact sheet can be found at AFAO_ASHM PrEP Fact Sheet
For further information contact Michael Scott, Executive Director, Queensland AIDS Council on (07) 3017 1777
or Nick Lucchinelli (AFAO) on 0422 229 032