Talks to provide UCD students with free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are still ongoing, despite confirmation of cost-free availability of the drug on July 1st.
A press statement released on Monday July 1st by UCD Student Union announced that PrEP medication would be available from the UCD on-campus pharmacy, free of cost to any student with a prescription, come September.
This statement was later retracted, with UCD Students’ Union President Joanna Siewierska saying that while a medical professional involved had originally said that the drug could be offered for free, “it was later clarified by the on-campus pharmacy that the cost-free access is still under negotiation and not yet confirmed.”
PrEP significantly reduces the chance of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and is highly effective, with a study conducted by American Association for the Advancement of Science showing that for people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, the estimated level of protection is 99%.
The HSE does not reimburse PrEP, nor is it available on the medical card or Drug Payment scheme. The cost of PrEP in Ireland is normally 100 euro a month.
Siewierska said that the UCDSU received a lot of inaccurate information, and as a result, both the on-campus availability of PrEP and its cost-free status are unconfirmed.
The HSE plan to launch a national PrEP HIV prevention plan this Autumn, with Health Minister Simon Harris stating: “We want to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland. Increasing the availability of PrEP will help us to do so.”
Siewierska said that UCDSU will be waiting for government action, before continuing their work on PrEP availability. She said: “We are waiting for the launch of the national plan, and once that’s in place, we will be spreading the information about it as far as possible and supporting our students in accessing PrEP through it.”
Image Credit: Justin Sullivan Getty Images