A new report on the HIV prevention drug PrEP has shown that it is safe and highly effective for people with significant viral contagion risk.
The report estimated that 173 HIV infections could be averted over the first five years of a program and cost € 1.5 million in the first year.
The government will introduce a PrEP program this year and follow the official advice of the Public Health Information and Quality Authority after the public consultation.
The draft HIQA Evaluation Report has been published together with its public consultation on the possible introduction of a PrEP program for the prevention of HIV.
PrEP is the latest development in the field of HIV prevention, which includes the preventive use of oral antiretroviral therapy in HIV-negative individuals to prevent infection.
Dr. Máirín Ryan, HIQA's Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chairman of the Board, said that implementing a PrEP program would be seen as a cost savings compared to standard care.
The report estimates that in the first year more than 1,700 people would join a potential PrEP program.
The additional impact on the budget would be € 1.5 million in the first year and € 5.4 million over five years.
Most of the costs would be incurred for the drug, but it would also require substantial investment in sexually transmitted infection services.
Dr. Ryan said the effectiveness of PrEP is strongly related to the correct use of the drug. PrEP should not be taken by people with undetected HIV infection, as drug-resistance mutations may develop.
She said that people participating in a PrEP program should be advised on how to take the medicine appropriately and undergo frequent HIV testing.
HIQA would like to hear the public's views on the draft report before it is finalized, and he advises the Minister of Health.
The cost of PrEP is currently not funded by the state. Individuals with a valid prescription must pay for it themselves.
PrEP is available in at least 49 countries worldwide, with 11 countries offering PrEP through national programs.
European countries with national programs include Belgium, France, Norway, Portugal and Scotland.
In Ireland, 492 HIV diagnoses were reported in 2017.