July 19th, 2019

Liberal government should provide universal PrEP coverage

HALIFAX-- The NDP is renewing its call for universal coverage of PrEP, medication which, when taken daily, can prevent transmission of HIV. The medication has been shown to prevent a person from contracting HIV 99 per cent of the time.

“This is a clear public health issue. A small investment by government would have a huge impact in preventing new HIV infections and the subsequent health care costs,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP 2SLGBTQ+ Affairs spokesperson. “It’s smart policy and it’s the right thing to do.”

There was a spike in new HIV cases in Nova Scotia last year. There were 29 new cases in 2018 compared to 15 in 2017.

“The Minister has had a report on his desk for months recommending the province cover the cost of PrEP for those who need it,” said Matt Numer, Associate Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University. “This is a change that would mean a lot to people who are at higher risk of being exposed to HIV and protect them from contracting a serious lifelong illness.”

It would cost the province an estimated $500,000 to $1.5 million per year to provide universal access to this drug. It costs the public health care system about the same amount to treat each new case of HIV over the patient’s lifetime.