Israel approves drug that prevents HIV infection
Health Ministry approves pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program for high-risk groups, making Israel one of a handful of countries to use the daily pill prevention regimen.
The Health Ministry approved a preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program to prevent HIV transmission on Tuesday, making Israel one of the first countries to implement it.
PrEP involves healthy but high-risk people taking medications that significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection or of carriers infecting others.
The Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee, headed by Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf, discussed the subject on Tuesday.
Dr. Yuval Livnat, director-general of the Israel AIDS Task Force, said that while anyone can be infected, one cannot ignore the fact that men who have sex with men are the most susceptible and part of the largest group at risk.
While most homosexuals use condoms, those that don’t need PrEP to prevent infection, he added. Many heterosexuals who don’t use contraception are at risk because of their habits, and they need such protection as well.
The drugs are to be handed out at AIDS centers in hospitals and clinics that serve homosexuals, in addition to health fund clinics. The ministry is soon to decide whether to give the drug to those who inject hard drugs and women at high risk.
Dr. Hila Elinav, an AIDS specialist, said taking Truvada before having unprotected sex is effective in preventing the HIV infection. Those who take the drug have to be under a doctor’s supervision, because it can cause complications.
Dr. Gal Wagner, a doctor in the LGBT clinic at Gan Meir in Tel Aviv, added: “We have all the medical and social tools to wipe out the HIV epidemic, and these include PrEP.” He noted that the US Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization endorse the drug.
San Francisco, which has an HIV rate similar to that in Israel, is one of the few places in the world that already has a prevention program that includes the drug that lowers the infection risk close to zero. The medication has already been included in the French health basket, and is due to be introduced in several US states.
Every week, three homosexual men become HIV carriers, and
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