The Federal Liberal Government has once again failed to respond to calls to step up and fund access to the life-saving HIV prevention drug, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
At today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council, Victoria called on the Federal Government to take action to ensure a quick listing of PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and to provide additional funding for high risk people to access PrEP now.
The Andrews Labor Government has already provided $1.4 million towards the Victorian first study, PrEPX, that has seen nearly 3,000 people offered access to the life-changing drug.
Yet with more than 600 Victorians still on the waiting list to participate in the trial, we want the Federal Government to step up and fund an expansion of the study so the people who need it the most can access it.
Sadly, the Federal Liberals once again passed the buck and refused to provide any funding or support to Victoria and other states and territories in our fight against HIV.
This is a disappointing setback in providing ongoing and affordable access to the medication for people at risk of HIV infection across Australia.
To ensure Victorians waiting can access this vital drug, we have consequently decided to provide an additional $100,000 to expand the trial to clear the waiting list and take the total number of people accessing PrEP to nearly 4,000.
This follows the Victorian Aids Council also announcing an additional $100,000 earlier this year to help clear the waiting list.
Victoria’s PrEPX is the fastest growing trial in Australia, and is growing at a faster rate than the PrEP trial in Paris.
It is operating at a number of sites across metropolitan Melbourne including the Alfred Hospital and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, and has been expanded to primary care clinics in large regional cities such as Geelong, Ballarat, Wodonga, Bendigo, Shepparton, Moe, Morwell, Mildura and Sale.
The PrEPX study is expected to reduce new HIV infections in Victoria by up to 30 per cent over the next few years.
PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent infection by taking a pill every day. Evidence shows, when taken consistently, it is 96-98 per cent effective at preventing HIV infection.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“It is extremely disappointing that once again the Federal Liberal Government are delaying and refusing to take the action required to make this life-saving drug more affordable and accessible for people at risk of HIV.”
“PrEP is critical to achieving our goal of virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020 but we can’t do it alone – we need the Federal Government to do their fair share.”
“Our funding boost will mean the hundreds of Victorians waiting to access PrEP won’t have to wait any longer.”