People at risk of HIV will save hundreds of dollars from next month with the price of a preventative drug slashed.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily drug recently recommended for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
It is 99 per cent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV among gay and bisexual men, and from April will be available to high-risk general patients for $39.50 a monthly script, with concessional patients to pay $6.40.
Without the $180 million government subsidy patients would have paid nearly $2500 a year.
"(The listing) puts Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV," Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Wednesday.
He says the change will not only benefit gay and bisexual men, but also help drive down HIV rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and migrant communities, which have seen increased transmission rates in recent years.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations says until now access to PrEP has been patchy, prohibitively expensive and mainly accessed through clinical trials.
"This will drive a substantial reduction in transmission and allow us to turbo-charge the Australian HIV response," federation CEO Darryl O'Donnell said in a statement.
The federation argues investment in HIV prevention also makes excellent financial sense, with each averted transmission of HIV saving the taxpayer one million dollars in lifetime costs.
Under the listing, patients will receive a three-month prescription and a sexual health check on each visit to the GP.
The government is also spending $1.2 million over five years on education and awareness measures for prescribers and affected communities on how to access and use PrEP.
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