US President Donald Trump yesterday announced that his administration has negotiated a donation of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for 200,000 Americans.
“My administration just secured a historic donation of HIV prevention drugs from Gilead to help expand access to PrEP for the uninsured and those at risk. Will help up achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!” Trump tweeted.
The new arrangement will see manufacturer Gilead providing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with millions of bottles of Truvada each year until at least 2025.
Around 40,000 people in the US are newly infected with HIV every year at present, but the government has aimed to end new transmissions in the next decade.
PrEP is close to 100 per cent effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the donation would mean that people could access PrEP who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
“The majority of Americans who are at risk and who could protect themselves with PrEP are still not receiving the medication,” he said.
“This agreement will help close that gap substantially and deliver on President Trump’s promise to end the HIV epidemic in America.”
Gregg Alton, chief patent officer of Gilead Sciences, said the arrangement must be coupled with addressing other contributors to HIV transmission.
“We are proud to partner with CDC to dramatically expand access to medication that can help prevent new HIV infections,” he said.
“We believe today’s donation, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the epidemic, such as racism, violence against women, stigma, homophobia, and transphobia, can play an important role in ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, particularly in parts of the country with the highest burden of disease.”
The arrangement is a welcome change from Trump’s shaky history with HIV issues.
In 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS jointly resigned, citing Trump’s lack of interest in HIV.
The president refused to meet with HIV advocates during the election campaign, and failed to appoint anyone to represent the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
The same year, Trump fired the remaining members of the council over the Christmas break.
PrEP is available in Australia under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.