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HIV medication should be free - LGBTIQ action plan

Health Ministry plan sets itself target for free PEP and PrEP medications

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Updated 1.40pm

HIV medication should be free, an action plan for LGBTIQ equality published on Friday is recommending. 

The action plan calls for both PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and PrEP drugs to be provided free-of-charge. PEP medication is administered in emergency situations after a recent possible exposure to HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is taken daily by people who are at risk of contracting HIV, to reduce the odds of them doing so. 

Activist Gabi Calleja said she hoped the medication would be introduced for free since it can cost hundreds of euros. However, she noted there were budgetary constraints the Health Ministry has to consider.

“However, the Equality Ministry has spoken to them about it and the Health Ministry is informed of our wish,” she said.

The proposal was included in the second LGBTIQ equality strategy action plan, which was launched on Friday morning at the Equality Ministry.

The first action plan focused on legislation, since Malta had no legal framework on the issue, Equality Minister Helena Dalli said.

This action plan will now focus on addressing discrimination by bringing the different realities of all LGBTIQ people to the fore.

Ms Calleja has also been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the strategy.

The strategy plan was launched on the eve of Pride parade celebrations, which take place in Valletta annually.

“Pride used to be a protest - now it’s a celebration,” Dr Dalli said.

MEP Metsola calls for free meds

Calls for PEP and PrEP medications to be provided free-of-charge locally were echoed by MEP Roberta Metsola, who on Friday said that their cost was often prohibitive.

"Too many people are being denied medication that could save lives," she said, adding that making a promise to introduce free medication at some point in the future was not enough. 

"That time is now," she said. "There should be no distinction between those who are fortunate to be able to afford the medication and those who cannot." 

 

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