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Liberals support calls to deploy new weapons against HIV

The State Liberals are backing calls for PrEP, a new weapon against HIV, to be made available to South Australians and accuse the Weatherill Labor Government of dragging the chain on the issue.

Stephen Wade, Shadow Minister for Health, said that the Liberal team will today support a motion moved by Greens MP Hon Tammy Franks calling for the State Government to act to make Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) more accessible in South Australia.

PrEP is a medication used by HIV-negative individuals to prevent them acquiring HIV.

“Clinical research has established that the treatment is effective in preventing HIV transmission when taken by HIV-negative people,” said Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade.

“PrEP can lead to a reduction in HIV transmission as high as 94% in some target groups.”

The main PrEP drug was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for supply within Australia in May 2016 but due to its high cost most ‘high risk’ patients do not access the drug.

More than 8000 Australians are enrolled in trials in other Australian States and Territories which both allow equitable access to a more affordable generic form of the drug and demonstrate how the drug can be rolled out to high risk persons.

Only 3 Australian jurisdictions do not have some form of demonstration project, including South Australia.

PrEP is a key preventative health initiative. 58 South Australians received a new HIV diagnoses in 2015 – with 44 first diagnosed in Australia and 14 overseas.

Each of these cases is estimated to cost the public health system around $500 000 over their lifetime. When conservatively half of these transmissions could be prevented by PrEP, the treatment will save both scarce public health resources as well as individuals from illness.

The treatment is only one of a range of protections against HIV, including condoms and abstinence.

With such a strong evidence-base, especially at a time when there is a threat of increases in HIV infection in at risk groups, we cannot afford to turn our backs on successful treatments.”