New Zealand Residents Now Only Pay $1.20 A Month For PrEP

Publix Poundersjason via Wikimedia Commons

Taking this drug daily has shown to offer more than 90% (and as much as 99%) effective protection against HIV in clinical trials, and certain New Zealand residents will soon be able to get a three-month supply for just $5 (oh, and that's five New Zealand dollars, which is about $3.64 in US money).

"Together with safe sex practise, early diagnosis and access to treatment, we expect that PrEP will significantly reduce HIV transmission rates in New Zealand", said Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt. As an economical alternative, many users have been forced to import generic versions of the drug from overseas pharmacies at a personal cost of around $50 per month.

"Providing affordable access to PrEP for those who need it will make an enormous difference to those most at risk of HIV transmission in New Zealand", said Dr Jason Myers, executive director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. The pill is a combination of anti-viral drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, and is created to be taken daily.

'It's a giant leap forward for our ambitious goal of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025'.

The medicine is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP as it is taken before exposure to the HIV virus.

To be eligible for PrEP, people will have to undergo regular testing for both HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It has been proven to be very effective at stopping the transmission of HIV.

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- PrEP should be continued for 28 days after the last potential HIV exposure in order to have maximum protective effect.

It estimated up to 4000 people would benefit from the decision.

She said that even though condoms are free by prescription and are highly effective, HIV infection rates are still rising in New Zealand. This is the highest number on record.

New Zealand has become the latest in a small group of countries that publicly funds PrEP and drastically lowers the price of the drug.

NZAF is New Zealand's leading HIV prevention and support community organisation. After a public outcry on the Publix PrEP refusal, the company stated that it is working to expand its health plan's coverage for PrEP "as quickly as possible".

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