Early antiretroviral HIV treatments to be subsidised

From 1 April, restrictions preventing subsidised antiretroviral therapy for some HIV positive people have been lifted. Previously, treatment was only subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) once CD4 counts dropped below 500 which could mean substantial treatment delay in the many people whose CD4 counts remain stable for years.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) first announced the lifting of the restriction in December 2013 but the changes have only come into effect today.

Associate Professor Edwina Wright, infectious diseases physician and president of the Australian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) which sponsored the PBAC submission, said the mounting evidence that supports early treatment has pushed the field towards initiating antiretroviral therapy even in HIV positive people who are well and who have high CD4 counts.

“Science has progressed since the time we used to think there was benefit in waiting