Florida to provide free PrEP to all gay and bisexual men by the end of 2018

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Florida is one of the first U.S. states to offer free HIV-prevention medication.

HIV-prevention drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will soon be available to gay and bisexual men in Florida for free, in the state’s attempt to reduce HIV-infections.

In October, the Florida Department of Health began a state-wide PrEP initiative, and according to officials, all 67 county departments should have the drug by the end of 2018. Only 16 counties are on board so far.

PrEP – also known as Truvada – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection, and is reportedly 100% effective if taken properly.

Mara Gambineri – spokersperson for PrEP – said: “Ensuring PrEP to those at highest risk for HIV infection, regardless of their ability to pay, is one of the four key components of the agency’s plan to eliminate HIV transmission and reduce HIV-related deaths.”

Related: Welsh government announces plans to trial HIV prevention drug PrEP on the NHS

PrEP is available at local health department offices and medical centres around Florida – residents who want access to free PrEP will need to fill out a form, which can be viewed here.

Last year, members of the European Parliament called for PrEP to made available across Europe.

Seb Dance, Labour MEP for London who voted for the resolution, said: “Improving access to this treatment across the EU will have a transformative effect on people’s lives.

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“It is vital that we continue to invest in research to achieve effective cures for HIV, but also that we make sure that a treatment that has proven to be an incredibly successful means of prevention is accessible and affordable across the EU.”

In May, a man from Melbourne tested tested positive for HIV, making him the first Australian patient and the fourth person in the world to acquire HIV while taking the drug.

The Victorian AIDS Council said the man may have failed to regularly take his prescribed dose, or could have come into contact with a person living with a strain of the virus that’s resistant to PrEP.

“There have been no reported occurrences of widespread PrEP failure here or around the world,” they reassured.

Related: These people read out heartbreaking messages sent to HIV-positive men on Grindr

“The vast majority of people taking PrEP in this country and around the world continue to be protected by this powerful HIV prevention tool.”

The World Health Organisation also added PrEP to its list of ‘essential medicines’, after Scotland announced they would be the first country to make the “life-changing” treatment available on the NHS.

“For every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs,” said Robert McKay, the National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland.

Related: PrEP to be made available on NHS from next month as part of new trial.

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