New Zealand Daily News
Removal of HIV meds restriction welcomed
By Daily News staff
8th May 2017 - 11:44 am

Pharmac's intention to remove a restriction on when people newly-diagnosed with HIV can be put on medications will "significantly benefit people newly diagnosed with HIV and those living with HIV as well as efforts to prevent HIV transmission” according to the NZ AIDS Foundation.

Currently people diagnosed as having HIV have to wait until their immune system is significantly damaged, as measured by a CD4 cell blood test, before getting access to HIV medications.

The government's Budget 2017 announced a boost to funding provided to Pharmac, the national drug purchasing body. Some of that money will be used to fund immediate access to HIV anti-retrovirals treatment for people diagnosed with HIV infection.

The NZAF has for several years advocated for the removal of the CD4 threshold.

It has said many times that treating a person's HIV infection immediately upon diagnosis not only benefits that person's health but can immediately lower their virus level to the point where that are highly unlikely to pass the virus on to others.

The World Health Organisation has recommended since 2015 that HIV medications be made available to all people diagnosed with HIV, regardless of how damaged their immune system is, and governments around the world have responded by lifting the restrictions.

“New Zealand is one of few countries in the developed world to still have a restriction on treatment access,” the NZAF's Executive Director Jason Myers says. “Early treatment is a fundamental pillar of NZAFs Ending HIV programme and removing the threshold for access would move us one step closer to achieving our aspirational vision of ending new HIV transmission in New Zealand by 2025.”

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