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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 11, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 19
Australia invests $134 million for PrEP funding
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Australia invests $134 million for PrEP funding

Reduces price to $1 a day

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Australian government announced on May 8 that it would invest AU$180 million (or $134 million in US money) in PrEP funding.

The government also added PrEP to Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the list of drugs approved for government-funded subsidies through the national healthcare plan.

The government actions will bring the cost of PrEP down to AU$39.50, or US$30, per month - a mere $1 per day. The cost will be even less for recognized low income Australians.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) said the new funding will 'drive a sharp reduction in HIV transmission.'

'The listing of PrEP on the PBS is a game changer for the future trajectory of HIV transmission,' said the AFAO's CEO, Darryl O'Donnell.

AFAO is currently working with the Department of Health to develop the eighth National HIV Strategy.

The next HIV strategic plan offers a huge opportunity to drive HIV transmission to very low levels, O'Donnell said.

'To fulfil this promise we need to leverage the power of big data. [The May 8] announcement of a new e-prescribing system provides the possibility of using anonymous data to build a dynamic, real-time picture of the use of HIV prevention and treatment medicines,' he said.

The new funding will also help with high rates of HIV infections amongst Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

'HIV transmission among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is now double that of non-Indigenous people born in Australia,' O'Donnell said.

'The budget's commitment to expand the skills and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professional organizations is welcome but dedicated and substantially increased investments to respond to BBVs (blood borne viruses) and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are needed.'

Increased Australian government funding to mental health support organizations will also help LGBT people, according to O'Donnell.

'Mental distress associated with sexuality, sexual health and the stigma surrounding HIV can be acute. Every extra dollar spent supporting people experiencing mental distress is a dollar well spent,' he said.

'Making progress on HIV will require that we are also making progress on intersecting health issues including mental health and alcohol and other drug use.'

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