As leaders in HIV medicine, Alfred Health welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to improve access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a significant step forward in preventive public health.
The addition of PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will bring the price of the drug down from as much as $10,000 a year to just $39.50 per script, making it accessible to the thousands of Australians who need it. Taken correctly, PrEP is 99 per cent effective at preventing HIV transmission.
The Alfred is home to Victoria’s largest study into PrEP medication – PrEPX – which has provided 4000 people with access to the drug since the launch in August 2016.
Study lead Associate Professor Edwina Wright said today’s PBAC announcement was a triumph for people at risk of acquiring HIV.
“Today’s long-awaited announcement that PrEP will be available on the PBS is a significant win for people in our community at risk of acquiring HIV,” A/Prof Wright said.
“When you’ve got such a powerful tool, you want it to be available to all people.
“The Alfred ran the first PrEP study in Australia in 2014 and since that time, the community demand for access to the medication has been strong. To know that all Victorians will soon have unrestricted access to this life-changing medication will be liberating for so many people.
“As the statewide service for HIV, we will continue to lead the way in research and clinical care, with a strong focus on preventing new HIV transmissions.”
There are around 7700 Victorians who are potentially eligible for PrEP, and more than half of that population is enrolled in the PrEPX study. About 85 to 90 per cent of participants have remained in the study over 20 months.
“Through innovation, we’ve been able to enrol people in rural and regional Victoria, ensuring the study is representative of the impact state-wide,” A/Prof Wright said.
“We’ve also played an integral role in working with a number of general practices and community pharmacies to deliver PrEP medication across the state, which we hope will make the transition for study participants onto the PBS a smooth one.”
Through the PrEPX study, researchers set out to determine whether providing large-scale access to PrEP medication will impact the rate of new HIV infections in Victoria. Studies have been conducted in every state except the Northern Territory. Victoria’s PrEPX study also expanded to provide PrEP to South Australia and Tasmania.