Israeli Health Ministry Approves Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV

In unprecedented move, Knesset panel agrees to ministerial plan for instituting PrEP protocol, based on drugs already administered to carriers of the virus that are also effective in preventing infection.

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The Israeli Health Ministry has for the first time approved pre-exposure prophylaxis that will help prevent HIV infection. The PrEP process, as it is called for short, involves taking drugs that substantially reduce the chances of contracting the immunodeficiency virus that causes the infection.

Specifically, the PrEp protocol calls for using the same drugs that are administered to carriers of the virus, and prevents its development in the bloodstream. Taking these precautions when one is HIV-negative effectively prevents possible infection.

On Tuesday, Neta Harel, the Health Ministry’s national welfare coordinator for AIDS and TB, reported at a meeting of the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee that a ministerial subcommittee dealing with ways to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS had recommended implementing PrEP in Israel. Harel noted that Moshe Bar Siman Tov, the ministry’s director general, had accepted the recommendation.

At the meeting in the Knesset, Dr. Gal Wagner, a physician at the Gan Meir Proud Clinic in Tel Aviv, said: “We have the medical and social tools to eradicate the HIV plague. They also included PrEP. The American Center for Disease Control confirmed Truvada’s effectiveness in preventing diseases. The World Health Organization also concluded that it is an important treatment for people at risk, and in November it recommended giving it to everyone at risk. The infection rate in San Francisco is similar to that of Israel, and the prevention scheme there includes a series of exams and treatment for HIV, together with preventative medical treatment. There are zero infections among those who took the treatment.”

Read the full story in Haaretz (some browsers require logging in)