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Doctors and gay men call on NDP to make HIV-blocking drug available

Photo shows a scanning electron micrograph of multiple round bumps of the HIV-1 virus on a cell surface.
Photo shows a scanning electron micrograph of multiple round bumps of the HIV-1 virus on a cell surface. Cynthia Goldsmith/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP

A group of physicians and local gay men’s health organizations are calling on B.C.’s Premier and Health Minister to approve an HIV-blocking drug for gay men to be funded by PharmaCare.

“We’re asking for whatever individual deductibles would be, so that would still be maintained. But the problem is that deductibles aren’t able to be applied to this because it’s not on the list of approved medications,” said Jody Jollimore with Vancouver’s Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men’s Health.

READ MORE: Child born with HIV in remission for 9 years without regular treatment

The drug is called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a month and it’s only accepted by some extended health plans.

The drug helps to stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in one’s body.

“We know that gay men are going to great lengths to get access this prevent medication. They are getting generics, they are getting mail boxes across the border, they are getting it shipped there and crossing the border,” said Jollimore.

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READ MORE: Americans scientists successfully cut out HIV genes from infected animals

The drug was made available to B.C. last year and is available by prescription, but Jollimore said because of cost, only the most privileged can access it.

So far no comment from the Health Ministry.

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