Government funds new HIV Treatment on the PBS

TriumeqA new HIV medicine has received a government subsidy through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to add to the range of treatment options available for people living with HIV in Australia.

From 1 April 2015, the new HIV antiviral medication Triumeq® (dolutegravir 50mg / abacavir 600mg / lamivudine 300mg) will be available through the PBS. Triumeq is a once daily tablet combing three antiviral medications dolutegravir, abacavir and lamivudine.

These three drugs have proven highly effective in treating HIV infection. Triumeq is the first single-pill therapy to become available which contains dolutegravir and is available to treat HIV in adults and adolescents over 12 years of age.

Aaron Cogle from the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) noted that today’s HIV treatment guidelines recommend all people with HIV consider taking HIV treatment, both for the individual health benefits and because being on treatment significantly reduces the risk of transmitting the virus.

“However, to complement these recommendations it is very important that HIV medications are easy to take, potent and have minimal side effects so that people with HIV are able to incorporate HIV treatment into their day to day living with minimal impact. Triumeq provides another choice for doctors and people with HIV to consider in their HIV treatment planning.”

Mr Cogle noted that even though there have been tremendous advances in the potency, tolerability and convenience of HIV treatments, not all people with HIV are aware of these developments.

“Misunderstandings and misconceptions can be a significant barrier for some people with HIV from receiving the benefits of modern HIV treatments, including the belief that HIV treatment can be deferred for long periods and that side-effects and other difficulties are common.”

“Talking these issues through with a doctor experienced in HIV medicine is very important. Local people with HIV organisations can also provide information and there are many excellent resources available online to help people with their treatment decision making.”

“A particularly useful resource has been developed by Living Positive Victoria, called Top 10 HIV Treatment Myths and Misconceptions. This resource is designed to assist people with HIV with their treatment decisions, by addressing some of the common misconceptions about taking HIV treatment.”

“We need to ensure that all Australians have access to the latest information on HIV treatment. People with HIV who aren’t already on treatment or who have concerns should start a conversation with their doctor and consider seeking support from their local people with HIV organisations or AIDS Council.” Mr Cogle said.

Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute in Sydney, described the PBS listing of Triumeq as a new option that could play a role to improve treatment rates in line with the targets from the National HIV Strategy. “The availability of Triumeq provides an important new option for Australians living with HIV. It’s important that people with HIV who are concerned about treatment speak to their doctor.”

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