Ireland’s first clinic for monitoring users of anti-HIV drug PrEP will open in Dublin on Thursday.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-daily medication that has been proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection, particularly among members of the gay community, by up to 90 per cent.
The clinic will be open to users of the drug and will provide HIV tests and STI screening; it will not supply the drug.
The clinic will be open on Baggott street in Dublin every Thursday from 10-12am.
PrEP may not be available under the HSE payment scheme until 2019, a delay that could see up to 800 new infections, health groups have warned.
The cost of PrEP is not covered by the HSE, although it can be obtained privately with a doctor’s prescription at a cost of € 400 a month.
Gay rights activists say most people can’t afford this, leading many to import it from abroad, a practice which is illegal in Ireland.
The HSE said an assessment was taking place on whether it would be cost effective for it to cover the cost of the drug.
The assessment is being carried out by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).
In June the NCPE conducted a “rapid review” which is an initial assessment of the drug.
This was completed in late July and a full assessment was recommended.
However, this assessment cannot progress until the manufacturers of the PrEP, Gilead Sciences, make a formal application to the HSE.