The Australian government’s planned $180 million subsidies of the antiretroviral drug Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was handed down last night in the Federal Budget by treasurer Scott Morrison.
The subsidy is part of the HIV prevention pills Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing. This will reduce the monthly prescription cost from $208 to $39.50.
When the subsidy was announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in March, with the government planning to put “Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV.”
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has welcomed the budget commitment to PrEP.
“The listing of PrEP on the PBS is a game changer for the future trajectory of HIV transmission,” said Darryl O’Donnell, chief executive of AFAO. “It is extremely reassuring to see the Commonwealth Government commit to funding this critically important medicine.”
The Australian government also announced a funding boost to mental health and suicide prevention efforts with additional funding committed to Lifeline, Beyond Blue and SANE Australia.
“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,” Mr O’Donnell 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.”