Express can reveal that the NZ AIDS Foundation is currently lobbying the Ministry of Health to trial Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in New Zealand.
Following the controversy around the NZAF’s comments on porn star and PrEP advocate Blue Bailey’s visit to New Zealand, Executive Director Shaun Robison has reaffirmed that the organisation is actively lobbying for a PrEP trial to take place in New Zealand.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (known as PrEP) is an HIV medication drug taken by people who are HIV negative as a protection against contracting HIV. It is currently available in the United States, and is being trailed in number of other countries where it is targeted to gay men at high risk of getting HIV. But it has not yet been trialed in New Zealand.
The NZ AIDS Foundation is hoping to change that however. “We’ve been monitoring the science around PrEP for the past five years. Last year, there were some critical changes around the IPERGAY and the PROUD studies and I think what those two studies showed that if you get PrEP to the right guys, they will use it and it’s pretty effective.” Executive director Shaun Robinson tells express.
“As recently as three weeks ago at the international conference on HIV science ( CROI), the results of those two studies was reported and showed that PrEP is 86% effective at a one to one level,”
“Our view on this question is that PrEP will be of benefit to high risk gay and bisexual men who resist condom use, and would best be administered by sexual health physicians who can routinely test for other STIs (like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and hepatitis) that PrEP does not offer protection from. We are currently lobbying for a PrEP demonstration project to test how effectively these high-risk guys in New Zealand can be engaged to use PrEP.” Robinson says.
The NZAF have been lobbying the Ministry of Health since late last year on the possibility of a PrEP trial. With Robinson hopeful of a trial starting soon. “I hope we can have it off the ground in twelve months”
“We believe that a number of men who resist using condoms will choose to go on PrEP if we can get it funded in New Zealand.”
That does not take away from the NZAF’s strong focus on condom promotion however. Robinson says that “condoms will still remain central to overall prevention efforts – they are affordable, effective, scalable, easily accessible, and they provide protection from HIV and other STI’s.”
Article | Levi Joule.