Israel's Ministry of Health approves PrEP as HIV prophylactic

PrEP approved: Israel's Ministry of Health approves new drugs that almost completely reduce the chances of contracting HIV. The drugs have so far been used only among carriers and patients, but now Israel joins a long list of countries that have approved the use of the drugs as a preventative treatment.
PrEP approved as preventative HIV treatment in Israel | Archive Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

In a dramatic decision, Israel's Ministry of Health has approved the use of a group of drugs called "PrEP" which reduce the chances of contracting the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The drugs are used as prophylactic and the Ministry of Health now confirms that those interested in using PrEP will be able to receive it from their health funds. Israel now joins countries like the US, Canada, France, Belgium, Norway and others that have already approved the use of the drug.

PrEP is a group of drugs that were originally used solely by those who had already contracted the HIV virus, whether carriers or patients, as part of the "cocktail" of drugs they took regularly. Over the past few years, it has been proven that the drugs can also have a preventive effect: researchers found that taking PrEP regularly reduces the risk of contracting HIV from unprotected sex by about 96%. 

The drugs approved for use are "Trubda" of the Giliad company and Teva's generic drug "Amtriber." Until now, Israeli's who wanted to use the drugs for preventative treatment had to smuggle them into Israel from abroad or purchase them on the black market.

Though people who live a high-risk lifestyle can now apply for prescriptions and obtain them legally at a local pharmacy, PrEP is still not included in Israel's subsidized health basket and prices range from NIS 1,900 to NIS 2,400 a month.

The Israel Aids Task Force, the LGBT Health Society and the AIDS Society has worked tirelessly to get the drugs approved in Israel. "In the State of Israel, about 400 people contract HIV a year," said Hila Pe'er, vice president of the Israel Aids Task Force. "In countries like the US and the UK, we saw a drop of about 20-30% in contractions of the virus since PrEP was introduced." The next phase, Pe'er says, is getting the drugs into the subsidized health baskets so that they can be accessible to anyone who needs them.



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