A PrEP programme will be available in Ireland next year.

The Health Ministry of Ireland has announced that is going to fund a roll-out public access programme for people to get access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP.

PrEP is an anti-retroviral drug taken by HIV-negative people which, if used consistently, can help to dramatically reduce the risk of acquiring the virus.

Announcing the policy, Catherine Byrne, the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, said: “To achieve a healthy Ireland, it is vital that we invest in prevention and support people to enjoy good physical, mental, and sexual health.”

The Dublin branch of ACT UP, a group aiming to end HIV, welcomed the move in a statement, saying: “We’re glad to see that Govt. plans to fund rollout of a national PrEP programme for Ireland in 2020. With HIV diagnoses at historic highs it’s critical that PrEP be widely available & easy to access. We will be watching progress closely!”

They added: “To be clear: Government has committed to start PrEP roll-out *this year* & we expect that to begin soon. However serious & sustained investment to improve & expand Ireland’s sexual health services is critical to the long-term success of this programme.”

NIAID via Flickr

Earlier this year, it was announced that PrEP would be offered for free to 200,000 Americans. The move came after Gilead, the company which owns the patent to the PrEP drug Truvada made a deal with the Tr*mp administration.

Details of the deal with the Tr*mp administration weren’t revealed. However, in a separate announcement, Gilead announced that it would lift the patent ban on the drug’s use, allowing a generic version of the drug to become available next year.

And in a landmark step towards eradicating new HIV transmissions, California will soon become the first state in America to offer PrEP over-the-counter, without the need for a prescription. ⁣⁠

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new law on Monday (7 October), which will take effect from January 1, 2020.⁣⁠

In a statement, he said: “Recent breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of HIV can literally save lives. All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS.”⁣⁠

Rick Zbur, of Equality California added: “By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California — unlike the White House — is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV.”

Related: Every HIV diagnosis is preventable: PrEP needs to be made routinely available on the NHS