Last year Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced that PrEP, the preventative taking of HIV inhibitors, will become available in France. By doing so, France sets a new course in HIV prevention. COC Netherlands, Aids Fonds, and Soa Aids Netherlands have also advocated the country wide availability of PrEP.
The ministerial decision to make Truvada available to ‘tens of thousands’ of candidates to prevent infection with HIV can be seen as a breakthrough in a European deadlock. While PrEP has been available on a wide scale in the US, European countries lag behind, in spite of the amply demonstrated effectiveness of this prevention method, both in research and in practice.
The most important obstacle was the European registration of the HIV medication Truvada for preventative applications, which is still pending. As France now shows, this registration at the European Medicines Agency EMA is not necessarily essential for a national decision. The treatment will be covered 100 percent by health care insurers.
This political decision was preceded by years of activism by interest group Aides. Some time ago, they got support of a group of scientists, doctors, and politicians, including Nobel Prize winner Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who urged the government to make preventative HIV treatment available immediately.
The French scientist Jean Michel Molina made a powerful plea for large-scale availability in Europe at NCHIV2015 in Amsterdam: ‘A Europe without new HIV infections is an achievable goal,’ he thought, ‘but PrEP availability on a large scale is necessary if we want to achieve this goal.
PrEP in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands at the moment, PrEP is only available through the AmPrEP study of the Health Authority GGD Amsterdam. The Aids Fonds and Soa Aids Netherlands signalled the added value of PrEp in the prevention of HIV as early as 2013. This additional treatment is necessary, as around 1,000 new HIV infections are diagnosed each year.
After studies reconfirmed the effectiveness of PrEP, these organisations again advocated making PrEP widely available in the Netherlands.