Anti-HIV Drug to be Made Available in Ireland, Taoiseach Announces
From December 4th the anti-HIV drug, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will be available for purchase in Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced in a statement this morning.
Students’ unions, including the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), have been at the forefront of the campaign to introduce the drug last year.
PrEP is a drug designed for the prevention of HIV. It’s taken once daily and has been proved to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, from at risk individuals, by up to 92 per cent.
In his statement, Varadkar announced that the drug will be available to purchase from pharmacies with a prescription, but will not be covered by the HSE. A months prescription of the drug will cost €400. Today, Friday December 1st, is World Aids Day. TCDSU, Trinity’s LGBT Staff Network, and Q Soc are working together to raise money to mark the day.
In August of this year, TCDSU joined members of USI to campaign for the introduction of the drug outside the health regulators office. In December 2016, TCDSU’s council mandated the union to campaign on this issue in response to the ever growing HIV crisis in Ireland.
The HSE has said that an ongoing assessment would be in place to evaluate if it would be cost effective to cover the price of the drug.
Dublin Gay Men’s Health Service and GUIDE clinic in St James Hospital has been providing the tests needed before taking the medication. Until now they have not been formally able to offer PrEP treatment.
Made by Teva Pharmaceuticals, it is expected that cost of the generic version of PrEP will be about €100 a month. Although previously illegal, a number of people have managed to source cheaper versions of Truvada from outside Ireland.
PrEP has been available in England under a pilot scheme from the NHS since August. Since November, more than 1,900 people have signed up for this trial.