New Zealand is set to offer HIV-prevention drug PrEP to people at high-risk of contracting the virus.
The government agency that rules on which pharmaceuticals to publicly fund, PHARMAC, announced today it intends to publicly fund PrEP.
It could be made available for little more than $1 per month, cheaper than in almost any other country in the world.
The reform will come as welcome to news to New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF), which has been lobbying for the move for a year, gaining thousands of signatures of support.
Currently the drug is available as an HIV treatment, but is expensive and not publicly funded.
The new announcement, which comes after the country voted in a change of government, would make New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to provide PrEP by government funding.
NZAF estimates PrEP would be available for US$3.40 per 90 pills, which is three month’s supply.
In 2016 New Zealand recorded its highest number of new HIV diagnoses since the AIDS crisis began in the 1980s.
The number of new diagnoses was up for another year, with the vast majority of those affected men who have sex with men.
Jason Myers, executive director, NZAF, said “PHARMAC funding would maximise the potential benefit of PrEP in New Zealand”.
“Making this tool publicly available would be a giant leap forward towards our ambitious goal of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025,” he said.
Under the plans PrEP would be available to men who have sex with men, transgender people, people recently diagnosed with another STI, infrequent users of condoms and people in a relationship with an HIV-positive person.
If the funding goes ahead PrEP will be available across New Zealand in pharmacies to those with a valid prescription from their doctor.