Brisbane's HIV infections drop 30% in 5 years; HIV drug Truvada still not on PBS

By @ritwikroy1985 on
HIV Drug Truvada
Two-drug combination pill Truvada made by the California-based biotech company Gilead Sciences could keep the healthy from getting HIV. Dr. Albert Liu, director of HIV Prevention Intervention Studies at San Francisco's Department of Public Health, holds a study pill for his Project T study in San Francisco, California, August 8, 2006. Reuters/Kimberly White

The HIV drug that has led to a significant drop in the number of HIV cases in Australia’s Brisbane will not be included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Queensland advocates believe that this omission is a big mistake. As per reports, Brisbane HIV infections have fallen 30 percent in five years and this achievement is significant.

The HIV drug Truvada is used in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatments. It’s a preventive medicine and taken once per day. The medicine has proven to be highly effective in preventing new HIV transmissions.

Even then the federal government drug advisory board, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), announced late last week that it would not recommend Truvada for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

HIV Foundation Queensland is very disappointed with this decision and is calling it a massive setback to end Australian Government’s goal of ending HIV in Australia by 2020. As the drug is not listed on the PBS, it costs Australians hundreds of dollars per prescription.

PBAC rejected Gilead Sciences’ application stating that the cost involved in making PrEP available to all at-risk people was too high.

“We feel that this is a step backwards in Queensland’s fight against HIV ... For Brisbane to be showing such a large reduction in new HIV cases without wide scale PrEP uptake demonstrates increased awareness and commitment to the cause. PrEP is the missing link to ending HIV in Queensland, and it’s a shame that the Federal Government does not recognise this,” HIV Foundation Queensland chair Darren Russell told Qnews.com.au.

He added that the federal government is letting the community down and that he has evidence that the community is doing every part to end HIV through increased testing. He thanked the Queensland State Government for rolling out a PrEP trial to eligible participants.

“We won’t reach the Australian Government’s goal without PrEP being subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” said Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) chief executive officer Darryl O’Donnell.

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