What is the current status of post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in New Zealand?
In July 2016, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation stated that it was working alongside Auckland Sexual Health Services, Body Positive and the University of Auckland School of Population Health on an New Zealand-based PrEP pilot clinical study. NZAF believes that introducing Pharmac-subsidised PrEP alongside existing regular condom use has the potential to make serious inroads into HIV/AIDS exposure levels in New Zealand. By that date, 200 volunteers had stated their interest in participating in the NZPrEP clinical trial, and Gilead Sciences Ltd had provided enough installments of medication for 150 participants.
Ethics approval is now being sought from the Auckland District Health Board Ethics Committee, which is the last step before initiating and implementing the study protocols and proceding with the project. NZAF and its collaborators are still seeking funding for associated project research costs, but these are not anticipated to significantly affect the duration of the project. In February 2016, NZAF also arranged for the diversion of some of its established funding into the NZPrEP project. Back in June 2015, the Ministry of Health and Pharmac had agreed to the establishment of the clinical trial, but access to PrEP for trial participants and funding were not provided in the context of this approval.
NZAF has also produced a sixteen page booklet for intending PrEP users to introduce the medication, its purpose and effects. It cautions against sourcing PrEP from overseas due to questions of authenticity and quality, while another related problem is lack of medical practitioner awareness about PrEP as an HIV prevention method. HIV and STI status and kidney function will all need to be monitored. Gilead submitted an application to Medsafe for HIV prevention use of Truvada in July 2016, but there is as yet no report back about whether or not the safety regulator has decided to support this application. NZAF is also lobbying for PrEP's inclusion in the Ministry of Health's Reproductive and Sexual Health Strategy, as well as the aforementioned NZPrEP clinical study and scoping research about willingness of gay and bisexual men to use PrEP to supplement existing condom use. NZAF would also like existing PrEP users, who have imported the drug for private use despite its high unsubsidised cost, to complete a survey on the medication.
As of early September 2016, this is all the information that is available about the progress of PrEP in New Zealand.
Update: NZPrEP Study: 06.07.2016:http://www.nzaf.
"What's happening with PrEP?" 19.08.2016:http://www.nzaf.