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Minister commits to implementing PrEP programme this year

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has recommended the introduction of a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme for populations at substantial risk of sexual acquisition of HIV.

The Authority has advised the Minister for Health that its health technology assessment found that the successful implementation of a national PrEP programme in Ireland would be “safe, effective and cost-saving”.

“Iimplementing a PrEP programme would be considered cost saving compared with standard care,” said HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan.

“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.”

Following the news Minister for Health Simon Harris committed to implementing a PrEP HIV prevention programme in 2019.

Welcoming the advice from HIQA, Minister Harris said: “We want to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland. Increasing the availability of PrEP will help us to do so. This report not only confirms that PrEP can help to prevent HIV amongst those who are high risk, it also shows how a PrEP programme could save money.”

“My Department and the HSE will fully consider the advice from the HIQA report as we continue to plan for implementation of a programme later this year. I note HIQA’s advice in the report on the need to invest in our sexual health services so we can deliver a high quality, holistic programme. Sexual health is a priority focus for me and Minister Byrne, and we want to deliver a world-class PrEP programme.”

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