New Zealand Residents Now Only Pay $1.20 A Month For PrEP

New Zealand has become the latest in a small group of countries that publicly funds PrEP and drastically lowers the price of the drug.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is an HIV-prevention treatment made up of the drug called Truvada. If taken daily, PrEP can a reduce the risk of getting HIV by 90 percent or more.

While last year New Zealand announced the change in policy and distribution of the drug, we’re only starting to see that change come in.

“Providing affordable access to PrEP for those who need it will make an enormous difference to those most at risk of HIV transmission in New Zealand,’ said New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s (NZAF) executive director Dr Jason Myers.”

“It’s a giant leap forward for our ambitious goal of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025.”

“For those who struggle with consistent condom use – which can be for a range of legitimate reasons – NZAF is delighted that there will now be publicly funded access to this effective, alternative way of staying safe from HIV for those who need it.”

Now, a quarterly prescription of the drug will cause NZ$5 (about US$3.60). If you want to look at it monthly, that’s only US$1.20 a month.

This is a stark difference from the US$731 a month that it used to be for New Zealand residents. Most would have their prescriptions shipped to them in order to escape that huge price.

h/t: GayStarNews

Health Experts Say PrEP Is Terribly Underused

Experts say PrEP is terribly underused.

According to the Associated Press, health workers are concerned by the lack of PrEP usage.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Truvada would be appropriate for about 1.2 million people in the U.S. — including sex workers and roughly 25 percent of gay men. Gilead Scientific, Truvada’s California-based manufacturer, says there are only about 145,000 active prescriptions for HIV prevention use, the AP reports.

Despite PrEP/Truvada lowering the risk of contracting HIV by 90 percent if taken daily, only about a dozen countries have government-backed programs to promote the pill.

Some of those locations are France, Norway, Belgium, Kenya, Scotland, England South Africa, Brazil and some Canadian provinces.

Unfortunately, the United States of American is not one of them.

As the Washington Blade also suggests, part of the problems in the United States of America is that Truvada costs a pretty penny, hasn’t convinced all doctors in the country, and has low usage rates from gay and bisexual men of color which is the demographic most affected by HIV.

In addition, when PrEP/Truvada is promoted, it’s often down through sexual innuendos such as New York’s “Bare It All” campaign or the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s “Raw, Real Language” campaign to entice black and Latino gay/bisexual men and transgender women into talking about HIV-prevention.

In time, perhaps more governments will push for the use of PrEP to help end HIV contraction. Sadly, we're not at that time yet.