Expensive HIV prevention drug to be FREE for all British Columbians who need it

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Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily oral antiretroviral medication that prevents new HIV infection. Photo Shutterstock

The BC NDP are coming through on an election promise next week. According to THIS ARTICLE published in Xtra leading up to the election, now-premier John Horgan said that the province of Quebec pays for PrEP through its public health plan and “I don’t see why British Columbia wouldn’t.”

Starting January 1st, British Columbians who are at high risk of HIV infection will be able to receive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), at no cost. Men and transwomen who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and people who have sex with those living with HIV are eligible to receive it.

The drug has become the gold standard of prevention but has been prohibitively priced in British Columbia. Those taking it have been paying thousands of dollars per year for it, which has meant less were able to access it.

And while HIV rates have dropped by more than 90% since 1996, HIV has not been eradicated. In 2015, there were 5.1 new diagnoses of HIV per every 100,000 residents. This new program aims to further reduce that number.

PrEP will be available through the BC Centre for Excellence’s HIV Drug Treatment program, which is funded by the Ministry of Health through the B.C. PharmaCare program. People interested in accessing it should talk to their health-care provider.

“B.C. has led the country and the world on efforts to control HIV and AIDS over the last three decades with the development and implementation of the made-in-B.C. Treatment as Prevention strategy. The addition of PrEP and expansion of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to our Treatment as Prevention strategy has the potential to further accelerate the decline of new HIV infections in the province,” said Dr. Julio Montaner, director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Learn more about the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS HERE.