A charity has passed the major milestone of contributing over $1 million towards eliminating HIV in Australia by creating greater access to cost-effective pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
PrEP is a pill, usually taken daily, that reliably prevents the acquisition of HIV.
In just over two years, Prepped Smart and Healthy has supported thousands of individuals to access PrEP by subsidising the cost.
“Prepped Smart and Healthy is doing remarkable work in supporting people to overcome financial barriers and take control of their health and wellbeing through the use of PrEP,” said Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth.
“It is through the collective action of organisations like Prepped Smart and Healthy that we’re going to see the virtual elimination of HIV across Australia.”
The program aims to reduce the cost of medication to a third of the usual price.
For example, general patients with a Medicare card can expect to pay $41 for a three-month supply as opposed to $123, while for concession card holders the cost is reduced from $19.80 to just $6.60.
In 2019, Thorne Harbour Health awarded its President’s Award to Prepped Smart and Healthy’s founder, Joseph Tesoriero, after the charity distributed more than $500,000 in subsidies after its first year.
To date, an estimated 5,000 people have accessed PrEP through the program.
“The purpose of Prepped Smart and Healthy is to make medications more affordable for those marginalised communities where the high cost may prevent access,” said Tesoriero.
“By removing the barrier of financial burden, adherence is made easier and the risk of medication failure is lowered, enabling better health outcomes.”
The milestone has been applauded by organisations that have worked for access to the HIV prevention drug.
Advocacy group PrEP Access Now expressed their gratitude to the charity.
“On behalf of the PAN committee, we extend our most sincere thanks to Joseph and the Prepped Smart and Healthy team for this astounding achievement,” said a spokesperson.
“The Australian PrEP community fought long and hard for affordable access to HIV preventative medication to better take charge of their sexual health.
“To have such profound support has undoubtedly benefited so many.
“This news is especially poignant as we navigate a global crisis where we have never been so cognisant of our health and wellbeing.”
Founders of the online community group PrEP’D for Change commended Prepped Smart and Healthy for “their dedication to supporting communities at risk of HIV and improving affordable access to this game-changing medication beyond the subsidy made possible by the Australian Government”.
“The significant uptake of this charitable offer is testament to PrEP users’ ongoing commitment to protecting themselves and their communities,” they said.