The Turnbull Government is taking a critical step in helping end the transmission of HIV infection in Australia with the 1 April listing of tenofovir with emtricitabine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS).
Known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), the preventative medicine is for people at medium to high risk of HIV infection.
It puts Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV.
PrEP is a medical innovation that will save Australian lives and the decision to list it is one of the most significant advancements in HIV transmission Australia has ever seen.
The treatment involves taking an anti-retroviral medicine daily to reduce the risk of HIV infection and will now be a key component in our comprehensive commitment in the fight against HIV.
The $180 million listing means up to 32,000 patients each year will pay a maximum of only $39.50 per script, with concessional patients paying just $6.40.
Without subsidy patients would pay $2,496 per year for this medicine.
Access to PrEP will not only benefit gay and bisexual men but will also drive down rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrant communities and other population groups which have seen increased transmission rates over recent years.
This decision implements a recommendation by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which found that PrEP significantly reduces the risk of sexually-acquired HIV.
The Committee emphasised that PrEP should form part of a comprehensive approach to sexual health and complement other safe sex practices.
The Government is also providing $1.2 million over five years for education and awareness activities for both prescribers and affected communities.
Nationally consistent information will inform prescribers, consumer groups and individual users of PrEP on eligibility for PrEP, how to access PrEP and how to use PrEP.
The Government is finalising the development of the Eighth National HIV Strategy 2018-2022, which will provide the roadmap to help us continue to make dramatic reductions in new infections and improvements in health outcomes.
In addition to the PBS subsidisation of PrEP, the Government funds research, education and awareness activities on HIV prevention.
The Federal Government is providing $800,000 each year to community organisations including, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations and the National Association of People with HIV Australia for education and awareness on HIV prevention.
In addition we are also providing $4.4 million over two years to support translational research activities to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of blood borne viruses, including HIV.
The funding has been provided to the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research (ACH2) – who oversee the research activities.
Since coming into Government, the Coalition has added around $8.2 billion worth of medicines to the PBS.
Unlike Labor, the Coalition has a policy of funding all medicines recommended by PBAC.
This is part of our rock sold commitment to making medicines accessible.
Labor delayed the listing of seven vital drugs – leaving important medicines out of reach for many Australian patients.
Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.