From March, Pharmac will fund the drug Truvada - which is already available to those with HIV - for the prevention of the retrovirus as well, making New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to do so. If you want to look at it monthly, that's only US$1.20 a month. 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 USA money).
"Providing affordable access to PrEP for those who need it will make an enormous difference to those most at risk of HIV transmission", executive director Jason Myers said.
- PrEP consists of two drugs - emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. It has been proven to be very effective at stopping the transmission of HIV.
That includes men who have sex with men, transgender people who have sex with me, those with higher chances of engaging in risky sexual behavior such as sex without a condom, and people with partners who are HIV positive.
From March, Truvada will be funded for the prevention of HIV infection, a treatment known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which has the potential to nearly completely eliminate the risk of HIV infection.
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- PrEP needs to be taken for 7 days before providing adequate protection for receptive anal sex, and 20 days for insertive anal sex or vaginal sex. But because taking PrEP requires frequent sexual health monitoring including STI testing, recent studies have suggested that PrEP use may reduce STI prevalence over time, even if condom usage is reduced.
In 2016 New Zealand recorded its highest number of new HIV cases ever in one year, with 244 people diagnosed.
New Zealand has become the latest in a small group of countries that publicly funds PrEP and drastically lowers the price of the drug.
About 3500 people in New Zealand are now estimated to be living with HIV. That's around $18,000 a year, and that's why so many people in the LGBT community were upset with Publix.
PrEP is publicly funded in Scotland through the National Health Service and in the Canadian province of Ontario.