Representatives of Health Ministry have told the Knesset Health Committee that they will soon begin to administer the PREP medication as a preventative measure to people who have a high risk of contracting the HIV virus. Thus, Israel will become only the fourth country in the world (following France, the U.S., and Holland) where this treatment is offered by the government.
Currently PREP is only included in the health benefits package after a person has contracted the HIV virus. The medication currently costs 2,500 shekels for those who purchase it on their own without medical coverage.
Neta Harel, the National Secretary in the Health Ministry for AIDS carriers, told reporters that “we made the suggestion to the director of the ministry to begin the pilot program and he acquiesced. We will begin by laying the groundwork for the project, enlisting the hospitals and the health maintenance organizations (HMO’s) and will work towards increasing coverage for wider sectors of the public who are at risk, and not just homosexuals.”
The drug has received high praise from Knesset members as well as medical professionals alike. It has tested successfully in high risk locations such as San Francisco, where reportedly one person is infected with the HIV virus each day.
According to statistical research a person who takes PREP removes 96 percent of the chances of contracting the virus. According to tests done in San Francisco, not a single person who was at high risk of contracting the virus and took PREP actually became infected.
Dr. Hila Elinav the Director of the AIDS medical department at Hadassah Hospital said that over the past two years there have been 470 documented cases of people contracting the HIV virus, one third of whom were homosexual males. In Israel, on average there are three new cases of people contracting HIV each week, and it is estimated that more than ten percent of the homosexual community in Tel Aviv has the virus.
So far the numbers in Israel, as opposed to the rest of the world are not decreasing as people who are at high risk of contracting the disease have needed to find the medication on the black market.