A PHARMACY in southern Africa which is a popular source for Australians to purchase PrEP has said its online orders from Australia jumped by 85 per cent in November and December last year.

Green Cross Pharmacy is one of three pharmacies recommended by PrEPaccessNow (PAN), an organisation that helps facilitate access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for those who have trouble getting it.

PrEP is a medical treatment that has been proven to significantly reduce the chances of contracting HIV.

PrEP is not yet readily available in Australia, but people who may come into contact with HIV and are interested in taking PrEP may obtain a prescription for the treatment and order it online from pharmacies overseas.

US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences applied to the Therapeutical Goods Administration in March to have the PrEP drug Truvada approved as a HIV prevention method in Australia, a process that could take up to 12 months before it can be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to make it affordable and easily accessible for those who need it.

Despite this, PAN founder Phillip Joffe said he was happy the number of Australians accessing PrEP from pharmacies overseas had increased, especially through PAN and Green Cross Pharmacy because it meant 15 people who could not afford to pay for PrEP would now be eligible to receive a three month batch for free.

“The community in Australia is subsidising PrEP for those people… and I thank the community for that,” Joffe said.

“We’re happy about the 15 freebies because that is something we’re doing exclusively, nobody else in Australia is doing that.”

He attributed the jump in PrEP orders to a wider understanding about the treatment and boost in publicity surrounding World AIDS Day last year and the NSW Government’s commitment to expand a PrEP trial.

PAN will meet with the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy tomorrow to discuss when a similar trial expansion for Victoria.

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