NAPWHA has welcomed the decision by the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of the HIV antiviralA medication or substance which is active against one or more viruses. May include anti-HIV drugs, but these are more accurately termed antiretrovirals. drug Truvada (TDF+FTC) for use in HIV negative adults who are sexually active.
The US FDA’s decision follows studies looking at once daily use of the HIV drug Truvada, in HIV negative people, known as PrEP, which found high levels of protection from becoming infected, including a 95% protection rate among study participants in San Francisco who took the drug.
PrEP is a user-controlled method that greatly reduces HIV risk. So it has the potential to be a powerful tool for many individuals and couples struggling to stay HIV-free.
“This is a game-changing moment in the history of the global HIV epidemic” said Robert Mitchell, President of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWHA, Australia).
“For the first time, we have a completely new biomedical prevention tool to use alongside other proven approaches like community based prevention programs and correct and consistent condom use. This gives us the capacity to dramatically drive down the rate of new HIV infections in Australia and around the world.
“NAPWHA has 25 years of leadership in championing the right of people to have timely access to the best HIV treatments. More recently, our efforts have included making sure that people already infected with HIV know about the additional benefit that taking HIV treatment has in helping prevent transmission of HIV to their partners.
“Now we will be joining with other community and medical colleagues to take this to the next level, which is to urge that HIV negative people at high risk of becoming HIV infected can have access to PrEP, in consultation with their doctors.
“It will take years for Truvada to be licensed for PrEP in Australia. So the immediate necessary first step is to set up access programs, designed to ensure that those who would clearly benefit from PrEP are able to access it while providing the best medical care, counselling and support. These programs would also collect data to inform future use of PrEP.”
Several months ago NAPWHA called on the Commonwealth Health Minister to set up a Task Force to prepare for the advent of PrEP in an organized way, and also to remove the red tape around critical HIV measures, like access to rapid HIV testing to encourage more people to get tested and removing arbitrary and out-dated restrictions preventing people already infected from accessing early HIV treatment.
Currently, 1000 new infections occur every year in Australia, which is completely unacceptable. At the same time, we see rises in risk behaviours and a fall in HIV testing rates. It is time that Australia got its act together and reclaimed our leadership in the global epidemic. We urge the Commonwealth Health Minister to redouble efforts and capitalize on the opportunities provided by exciting new developments in HIV prevention and treatment.
For comment please contact Bill Whittaker, Spokesperson, National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWHA, Australia): 0407 044 035 (+61407044035)
17 July 2012