A bottle of PrEP ( Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). Shutterstock/Bowonpat Sakaew

Hiqa is looking at whether a PrEP programme can start in Ireland next year

The health authority’s work is due to conclude next year, with a possible roll out soon after that.

IRELAND’S HEALTHCARE WATCHDOG is looking at the feasibility of the government launching a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme next year.

PrEP is a once daily medication that can significantly reduce risk of infection among HIV-negative people at high risk. To date, PrEP has only been available to buy in Ireland on prescription at a price of over €400 a month for the brand-name medication, and around €100 for the generic medication. 

The Health Information Quality Authority (Hiqa) has been carrying out a Health Technology Assessment of a programme which would make the drug free for populations at substantial risk of contracting HIV and who hold a medical card.

The aim is to establish the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of providing a PrEP programme in Ireland, a statement from the Department of Health said this morning.

Hiqa’s work is due to conclude by early next year, for a possible roll out by 2019, as outlined in The National Sexual Health Strategy 2015–2020.

Considerable work has already been done by the HSE to prepare for the introduction of a PrEP programme.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “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.

“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.”

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