PHARMAC widening access to Truvada for the prevention of HIV infection

Media release Medicines

A decision to widen access to Truvada to prevent infection with HIV is a great opportunity to reduce transmission rates of HIV infections in New Zealand, says PHARMAC Chief Executive Sarah Fitt.

From 1 March 2018 emtricitabine with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Truvada) will be funded for the prevention of HIV infection (a treatment known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP). Truvada is already funded for treating people infected with HIV, however this decision means it will also be funded for people if they are not infected but are at a high risk of contracting HIV.

PHARMAC estimates up to 4000 people with a high risk of contracting HIV will be eligible for PrEP treatment, which has the potential to almost completely eliminate the risk of HIV infection. New Zealand will be one of the first countries in the world to publicly fund PrEP for the prevention of HIV.

“Together with safe sex practise, early diagnosis and access to treatment, we expect that PrEP will significantly reduce HIV transmission rates in New Zealand,” says Ms Fitt.

“Truvada was registered for PrEP in August 2017, and we have worked closely with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation to support them in preparing a funding application for PrEP, which was reviewed by our clinical advisers and given a high priority for funding in November 2017.

“Condoms continue to be the primary and recommended method of preventing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are fully funded on prescription and are highly effective, but rates of HIV infection are still increasing in New Zealand.”

Funded access to PrEP will require that people undergo regular testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and are monitored for risk of side effects. People taking funded PrEP will receive advice on ways to reduce the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.