Health Ministers mark World AIDS Day – PrEP programme to be introduced in 2019

Minister for Health, Simon Harris and the Minister for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne have marked World AIDS Day by reaffirming their commitment to introducing a PrEP programme next year.

Both Ministers welcomed the significant progress that has been made over the past number of years but acknowledged more must be done to reduce the number of people diagnosed with HIV.

Speaking on World AIDS Day, Minister Harris said “Reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland remains a priority focus for me as Minister for Health. I remain absolutely committed to rolling out the PrEP programme in 2019.

“There was a fall in the number of diagnoses of HIV in 2017. However, we must remain vigilant and take all steps to reduce the rate of the disease and to protect those who contract HIV.”

On the issue of PrEP, Minister Harris said “The Health Information Quality Authority was asked by the Government to carry out a Health Technology Assessment of introducing a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme in Ireland.

“The aim is to establish the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of providing a PrEP programme in Ireland. I am committed to rolling out the PrEP programme in 2019, as outlined in the National Sexual Health Strategy 2015–2020, and considerable work has already been completed by the HSE to prepare for the introduction of a PrEP programme that meets appropriate standards.”

Minister Byrne said “I welcome the progress that has been made in the treatment of people living with HIV in Ireland, however it’s important to recognise that for many people, the fear of getting tested and the stigma of a HIV diagnosis is very real. We are committed to breaking down this stigma by raising awareness and encouraging people to get tested so that they know their HIV status, can access treatment, and prevent transmission to partners. Supporting and promoting positive sexual health and wellbeing is the cornerstone of the National Sexual Health Strategy (2015-2020).

Information on HIV is available on a new website, that was launched earlier this year to ensure the public has trusted sources of information on all aspects of sexual health and wellbeing.

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