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HIQA launches consultation on PrEP programme

HIQA has launched a public consultation on a draft health technology assessment (HTA) of a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme for populations at substantial risk of sexual acquisition of HIV.

PrEP is the most recent development in the field of HIV prevention, involving the pre-emptive use of oral antiretroviral therapy in HIV negative people to prevent infection. PrEP consists of a fixed dose combination of oral tenofovir/emtricitabine and has been licensed for use in Ireland since 2016. A PrEP programme provides PrEP as part of a holistic service that includes frequent monitoring for adherence and side-effects, testing for HIV and other STIs, and counselling and advice on safer sex practices.

HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan, said: “HIV infection remains a significant public health concern. There were 492 diagnoses of HIV notified in Ireland in 2017. Just over half of all notifications were in men who have sex with men.”

Dr Ryan continued “From reviewing the evidence, HIQA has found that PrEP is safe and highly effective at preventing HIV in people at substantial risk. Additionally, implementing a PrEP programme would be considered cost saving compared with standard care. The effectiveness of PrEP is strongly linked with taking the medication correctly, and PrEP must not be taken by individuals with an unrecognised HIV infection as drug resistance mutations may develop. This means that it is important that people taking part in a PrEP programme should receive advice on taking the medication appropriately and undergo frequent HIV testing.”

HIQA invites members of the public to give feedback on the draft report by 28 May. Following this, a final report will be prepared for consideration by the HIQA board before providing advice to the Minister for Health. The completed assessment will be submitted to the Minister and the HSE as advice and published on the HIQA website.

The draft report can be read at http://bit.ly/2GwTJaa

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