Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Renewed calls for HIV prevention pill approval

Australia's version of the Medsafe agency has registered Truvada -- a drug currently used in New Zealand to treat people who already have HIV -- as a preventive treatment.
Australia's version of the Medsafe agency has registered Truvada -- a drug currently used in New Zealand to treat people who already have HIV -- as a preventive treatment.

The Aids Foundation is pushing for a pill to be approved here for use in HIV prevention after a similar move was made across the Tasman.

Australia's version of the Medsafe agency has registered Truvada -- a drug currently used in New Zealand to treat people who already have HIV -- as a preventive treatment.

While Australian authorities are yet to fully fund the drug, it is now available for people to use as a means of protecting themselves from HIV.

In light of this, the New Zealand Aids Foundation has renewed calls for authorities here to do the same.

Chief executive Shaun Robinson said it was important for Kiwis to have full access to the drug to prevent HIV.

"We hope that approval by Australia's TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] will encourage the manufacturer to urgently proceed with a similar application in New Zealand," he said.

"If and when Medsafe approves Truvada for use as PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis], it will take us one step closer to PrEP being funded and will also make prescription for private importation easier."

The foundation would like to see the drug fully funded for preventive use.

It said that when taken daily and under the directions of a doctor, Truvada was a very effective tool for preventing HIV infection.

"Along with condoms, PrEP gives people at risk of HIV an additional tool for taking control of their health and well-being."

Truvada as a preventive treatment

• Offers a high degree of protection but is not 100 per cent effective.
• Works best if taken daily.
• It does not protect from other sexually transmitted diseases.
• Long-term effects of the drug are unknown.
• It should be used only with the support of a doctor who can undertake regular testing.
• It is currently licensed and funded for use in the US, France and Israel.
• Unfunded, the retail price of the drug is around $1200 a month.

For more information go to: http://www.nzaf.org.nz/hiv-aids-stis/hiv-prevention/prep/

- NZ Herald

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