Norway Becomes First Country To Offer HIV Prevention Drug PrEP For Free

Norway’s Minister for Health and Social Care Bent Høie announced earlier this week that the Nordic country will become the first nation on earth to provide free PrEP for anyone classified as ‘high risk’ seeking the drug.

“PrEP will contribute to reducing the rate of new infections in the gay community, as gay men are facing a risk of infection much higher than the general population,” stated Leif-Ove Hansen, the president of HIV Norway. “Condom use is on the decline,” he continued, “and we are happy that PrEP now is an integrated part of the public health service.”

PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a way for people who don’t have HIV but who are at very high risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill – Truvada – every day.

The pill contains two medicines, tenofovir and emtricitabine, that are also used to treat HIV, medicines that work to keep the virus from taking hold in one’s body.

The decision has met with near universal praise by HIV/AIDS prevention groups around the world. “The decision to make PrEP freely available to these communities is yet another fantastic endorsement of PrEP as a key strategy to reduce HIV transmission,” said Heath Paynter, deputy CEO, Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations.

“AFAO is committed to supporting Australia to meet its obligation to virtually eliminate HIV by 2020 and this means making PrEP available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). In the interim we are working with key stakeholders and governments around the country to make PrEP as accessible as possible, and to make the community aware of the range of options to access PrEP.”

Currently, Norway has one of the lowest percentage rates of any country in the world for HIV/AIDS prevalence for men ages 18-49. At stands at .10 percent. By contrast, South Africa stands grimly at 18.92 percent.