The HIV prevention drug, PrEP, looks set to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), drastically slashing its price and increasing its accessibility for tens of thousands of potential users.

According to reports the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations on what drugs should be listed and publicly subsidised, is set to advise the government to list Truvada, the commercial name for PrEP.

PrEP is a once-daily pill that is considered to be 99% effective at preventing new HIV diagnoses when used properly.

Truvada can currently cost up to $10,000 a year but a PBS listing is expected to bring the price to below $500 a year, meaning thousands of at-risk individuals, including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers, will have greater access to the drug.

However whilst PrEP’s success and its listing on PBS are welcome news, much remains to be done to relise its full potential particularly among the culturally diverse communities, according to Barbara Luisi, manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service.

“People from diverse cultural backgrounds remain overrepresented in newly diagnosed HIV cases in Australia these past few years. For PrEP to be fully effective, we need to ensure there is increased awareness of HIV risk amongst our diverse communities, along with an understanding of the range of prevention options, including the benefits of testing and treatment. The PBS listing of PrEP is both a historic opportunity to reach out to such a population and to tackle an important global epidemic,” Ms Luisi said.
A MHAHS information stall at Embassy English College, Charles Sturt University on 16th January was a huge success.

The stall at the Well-Being Expo, staffed by our Health Promotion Officer, Natali Smud and Chinese Cultural Support Officer, Jim Tan, shared information about the service and distributed resources on HIV.

Ms Smud said that the event was a great place to meet international students and hear their views about the epidemic.

“Many students of diverse language backgrounds visited our stall and were keen to know if HIV services in Australia are free and confidential. We are encouraged that many students want to know more about HIV treatment and Dried Blood Spot HIV Home Testing. We were able to explain the students that they don’t have to have a medicare card to access HIV services.  We thank the college for inviting us and hope our information will help the students look after their health”.

The MHAHS International Student’s Project is aimed at raising awareness of contemporary HIV testing, treatment and prevention options among overseas students studying in NSW. It encourages international students to seek free help from relevant HIV services if they feel they are at risk while studying in NSW.

For more project details, contact Gula Sapthari on (9515 1234) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
A delegation of the Korean Federation for HIV/AIDS Prevention (KHAP) visited the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) on 18th December to get an insight into how the service responds to the needs of people affected by HIV who are from diverse cultural backgrounds in NSW.

The delegation, led by Pyoung Park, Deputy Director for the Division of HIV/AIDS and TB Control from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met with Barbara Luisi, manager of the service and several other members of the MHAHS team.

A range of MHAHS programs were showcased during the meeting, including the MHAHS community development work, client support, media campaigns and Dried Blood Spot HIV home testing.

Engaging community organisations, working in partnership and leadership couched within cultural respect were identified as critical elements to tackling HIV in diverse communities.
Further efforts are needed to increase HIV testing among people and communities at risk of longstanding infection including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, according to the recently released NSW HIV Data Report July-September 2017.

In NSW, new HIV diagnoses have declined over the past six years. This is due to high uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is a daily medicine that prevents HIV, higher treatment rates as well as earlier commencement of treatment, and more frequent testing that leads to earlier diagnosis.

However, the report highlights the need to raise awareness of and improve access to the range of testing, treatment and prevention options available in NSW for people born overseas.

Read the report