In a powerful show of support for its LGBT community, the Norwegian government has become the first country in the world to offer PrEP free of charge as part of its National Health Service.
The Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada has been proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86 percent and has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The drug is available in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, France, South Africa and, now, Norway.
Minister for Health and Social Care Bent Høie made the announcement earlier this week, stating that the drug would not only be available in the country, but that it would also be provided to at-risk users at no expense.
The landmark move came as the result of two years of tireless lobbying by HIV Norway in conjuncture with the Institute of Public Health and the Health Directorate.
“PrEP will contribute to reducing the rate of new infections in the gay community, as gay men are facing a risk of infection much higher than the general population,” stated Leif-Ove Hansen, the president of HIV Norway.
“Condom use is on the decline,” he continued, “and we are happy that PrEP now is an integrated part of the public health service.”
The bold decision has been met with great enthusiasm from HIV charities around the world, many of whom are still advocating for PrEP to become available in their countries.
Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK, said: “Norway’s decision to provide PrEP is another great step forward for HIV prevention in Europe. PrEP is a game changer and, when used alongside condoms, regular testing and effective treatment, it can help end the HIV epidemic for good.”
“[Governments] must stop with their delays and confusion,” he concluded, “and make PrEP immediately available to those at risk of HIV.”
h/t: Pink News