Today, it has been announced that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommend that the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme PBS). TIM welcomes this announcement from PBAC.
PrEP is a necessary and urgent tool, and one of a new array of options in the fight to end HIV. We have long said that until PrEP is fully accessible, it will not be fully effective. We have already seen in some jurisdictions how PrEP, in combination with other prevention methods, testing strategies, and meaningful community engagement, has helped to reduce instances of HIV transmission. Now, we hope to see the same effect across the country, and beyond just the community of gay and bisexual men affected by HIV.
For too long, people living with HIV have born the brunt of expectation, responsibility, and blame when it comes to keeping the community safe from HIV. PrEP offers HIV negative people the opportunity to take more responsibility for their own safety.
With PrEP available and more people aware of and embracing U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable), we hope this is the beginning of the end for new HIV transmissions in Australia, but we know this is not the end of HIV stigma and discrimination. In acknowledging today’s welcome and excellent news, we also acknowledge the long history of HIV and AIDS in Australia and elsewhere. PrEP would not be possible with people living with HIV putting their bodies on the line.
TIM hopes that as the sero-divide between HIV positive and HIV negative people diminishes, we also see a reduction in the unnecessary stigmatising and criminalising of people living with HIV.
Nic Holas, co-founder.
The Institute of Many (TIM) is Australia’s largest grassroots movement for People Living with HIV, founded in 2012.
Image: AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia