The Australian government on World Aids Day on December 1 announced that the two-drug, once-daily, single pill Dovato will now be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for all eligible persons living with HIV. Dovato was earlier available through PBS only to the around 1000 newly diagnosed PLHIV each year. The expanded list means that ViiV Healthcare’s two drug regimen (dolutegravir and lamivudine) is accessible to all PLHIV who are on antiretroviral therapy.

“(In Australia) we can be thankful for universal health care which ensures the best treatments are affordable and accessible to meet the needs of the diverse HIV community,”, President of the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) told Star Observer. “Antiretroviral medications for HIV are not a case of one size fits all, and just as the community of people living with HIV is diverse, diversity of the treatment options available to us is important. This listing ensures another option is available to a person with HIV and their doctor when deciding what treatment is best for them.”

According to the government a majority of PLHIV who are on treatment are over 50 years old. Harlum explained that the expanded listing ensures that the medication is an option available to all people living with HIV in Australia who are now living longer lives and have to consider long-term treatment management.

“People living with HIV are now living longer lives and so are increasingly mindful of the long term impacts of treatment both on their health and on their quality of life.”

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 Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt in a statement said that the PBS listing of Dovato would benefit around 28,000 PLHIV in the country.

Without subsidy, it could cost them more than $8,500 per year, however it will now cost as little as $6.60 with a concession card,” the statement said. “This expanded listing follows the recent expansion of other important medicines for people living with HIV over recent years including expanded PBS access to Biktarvy for children with HIV from September 1, 2020.”

The federal government also announced that it would provide around $6.2 million “towards the ongoing battle against HIV.”

NAPWHA has emphasised that it was necessary to address the challenges faced by PLHIV.

“People living with HIV need simple treatment options that don’t get in the way of our lives and which support our quality of life. These considerations become increasingly key to deciding what treatment is best for each of us, and particularly as we age,” added Harlum.

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