Rob Higgins from the Community Based Research Centre and William Flett from YouthCO give out flyers in front of Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert's office Nov 10, 2017, pushing for provincial coverage for PrEP drugs. Credit: Niko Bell/Xtra
One of the province’s most respected HIV/AIDS specialists has publicly announced that coverage for an effective HIV-prevention drug doesn’t have to cost BC taxpayers a dime.
Julio Montaner, the head of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, told a room full of doctors and activists Nov 6, 2017, that his centre has negotiated a deal with generic drug manufacturers that could deliver the treatment without swelling the budget.
“The message is, we’re ready,” Montaner told Xtra following his announcement. “It’s time to do this.”
During this year’s provincial election, now-Premier John Horgan said it was “a mystery” why coverage wasn’t already provided for PrEP, a treatment that effectively eliminates the risk of contracting HIV. But since forming government, the NDP have stalled, citing costs and a need for more review from the Centre for Excellence.
Montaner’s announcement undermines the government’s case for stalling, leaving HIV/AIDS activists and health care professionals wondering what the province is waiting for.
“The ball is pretty firmly in the province’s court now,” says Jody Jollimore, managing director of the Community Based Research Centre in Vancouver.