The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is working on the introduction of a PrEP programme for populations at substantial risk of sexual acquisition of HIV.
HIQA was asked by the Government to carry out a Health Technology Assessment of introducing a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme in Ireland.
The aim is to establish the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of providing a PrEP programme in Ireland.
HIQA’s work is due to conclude by early next year and the Minister for Health has said he looks forward to advancing policy on this issue at that juncture:
“We know that enormous progress has been made in the treatment of people living with HIV.
“However, we are also acutely aware of the significant numbers of people in Ireland being diagnosed,” said Simon Harris.
“Prevention is absolutely essential and as Minister for Health I am keen to make PrEP, which is a prevention tool, more readily available to those at risk of HIV in Ireland,” he added.
In a tweet by the Department of Health this morning, the Department of Health reinforced their commitment to the rollout of a PrEP programme in early 2019 as part of The National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020.
They also stated that “considerable work has already been completed by the HSE to prepare for the introduction of a PrEP programme.”
HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan, said: “HIV infection remains a significant public health concern. In 2017, over 500 new HIV infections were reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in Ireland. In fact, the years 2016 and 2017 witnessed the highest number of new HIV notifications ever reported to the HPSC. Approximately half of all new notifications were in males who have sex with males (MSM). Since 2006, there has been a threefold increase in new infections in the MSM community.”
HIQA has also announced that in addition to providing PrEP free of charge, such a programme would also monitor patients through regular testing and provide counselling and advice.
Dr Ryan continued “HIQA’s assessment will look at the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of funding a PrEP programme. In addition to providing PrEP free of charge, such a programme would also monitor patients through regular testing and provide counselling and advice. The assessment will also look at the budget impact of introducing a PrEP programme and assess the organisational and resource implications of such a service.”
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