State Health Watchdog HIQA Announces HIV Prevention Drug PrEP Is Safe And Effective

The conclusion has opened the way for a crucial HIV Prevention Programme In Ireland.

A funnel pours the HIQA approved PrEP pills into a plastic pill bottle

A draft report issued by HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) said that PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is not only safe and effective, but also would be “cost effective” if provided by the public health service.

The Government had asked HIQA to carry out a Health Technology Assessment with the eventual aim to establish the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of providing a PrEP programme in Ireland.

HIQA stated that in medical trials there was a risk reduction of 75% and estimated that within the first five years of a programme, 173 HIV infections could be averted. Dr Máirín Ryan, Director of Health Technology Assessment at HIQA reported possible costs for the first year of the programme of €1.5m but stated that implementing the programme would be far less expensive compared with standard care.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar stated “The introduction of a PrEP programme, coupled with increased testing and greater awareness will help us to reduce the number of people contracting HIV.” He continued that the report “not only confirms that PrEP can help to prevent HIV amongst those who are high risk, it also shows how a PrEP programme could save money.”

Simon Harris, Minister for Health, said HIQA’s report was a huge step towards a programme being introduced and awaited formal advice from HIQA when the report was finalised.

Niall Mulligan, the Executive Director of HIV Ireland, said: “The Taoiseach and his Government are to be thanked for accepting, and fully supporting the efficacy, and the need for PrEP in Ireland. A fully funded PrEP Programme is a crucial intervention to adopt in order to reverse the current upward trend in new HIV diagnoses. With ten people being newly diagnosed with HIV in Ireland every week, any delay in introducing this programme will have a devastating impact on many people’s lives. Now is the time to act, and act fast.”

The introduction of a PrEP programme could not be more necessary. In 2018 alone, Ireland recorded 530 new cases of HIV – up from 339 in 2013.

For information about HIV, testing, safer sex and support please visit – HIV Ireland,  Man2Man, Positivenow and ACT UP.

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