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Stop withholding HIV medicines in New Zealand

PHARMAC, stop withholding access to HIV medicines that will improve health and reduce new infections.

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Record rates of HIV in New Zealand, yet medicines that can halt transmission are being withheld?!

New Zealand has an outdated policy of denying access to HIV medicines until a person’s immune system has been sufficiently damaged.

This policy was developed two decades ago when it was decided that HIV treatments were too toxic and should be avoided until absolutely necessary. Newer treatments are far less toxic and global scientific consensus supports starting treatment as soon as possible.

Ground-breaking studies have shown that those who start HIV treatment early are 57% less likely to develop serious illness or death compared to those who are made to wait. It’s also been proven that if a person living with HIV is on treatment, and has an undetectable viral load, then the risk of passing on HIV through sex without condoms is almost zero.

In light of these developments the World Health Organisation and United Nations have recommended that HIV medications be made available urgently to all people diagnosed with HIV, regardless of how damaged their immune system is, and governments around the world have responded by lifting the restrictions.

Why is New Zealand lagging behind? PHARMAC know that providing early access to medication can drastically reduce the number of new infections – we’ve shown them the evidence. Their own anti-infective subcommittee recommended funding early access to medication in February 2014, yet nearly three years on PHARMAC have said that they can’t fund it yet because there are other priorities.

Roughly 600 New Zealanders have been diagnosed with HIV since February 2014 and rates are continuing to rise; 2015 was the worst year on record. How much more do they need to rise for PHARMAC to make it a top priority? 

Sign today and tell PHARMAC to make reducing rates of HIV in New Zealand a top priority and remove the threshold for accessing medicines. 

Tell PHARMAC to make reducing rates of HIV in New Zealand a top priority

"PHARMAC, you have a responsibility to fund access to medicines that will halt this epidemic. The science is clear that starting HIV treatment early is best, and your anti-infective subcommittee supports this. It's time to reassess your priorities and stop withholding access to medicines that will vastly improve individual health and reduce new HIV infections in New Zealand.