Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Questions without Notice
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government's stable and certain economy enables the government to support those living with HIV, including through making life-changing medicines available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?
I want to thank the member for Boothby for her commitment and leadership on a bipartisan approach to important public health issues in this place. Only last night, along with the member for Dobell, she helped co-sponsor the approach to endometriosis. I know that the member for Forrest has been a great advocate. The former member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, has been a great advocate in this space.
Equally, though, the great task of bringing safety and support to those Australians facing HIV or the risk of HIV has been a bipartisan commitment for more than three decades. Earlier, when former Prime Minister Bob Hawke passed, the Prime Minister acknowledged the role and leadership of his predecessor, Neal Blewett, and others in bringing HIV and AIDS campaigns to the national consciousness. That's been continued over many decades. I am delighted to say that the work today is yielding the fruit of many years of hard work.
In particular we now have the latest figures, which show a 23 per cent reduction in the number of people contracting HIV in Australia over the last five years. Eight hundred and thirty-three Australians contracted HIV in the last year for which we have figures, and 28,000 Australians are living with HIV, but, because of the commitment and the work of successive governments, there has been a dramatic change. Indeed, because of the collective work of medical research and the availability of pharmaceuticals in Australia today, no Australian need pass or lose their lives.
Recently in the May budget, we were able to commit $45 million towards the national blood borne virus and sexually transmitted disease strategy. That included $20 million to assist in reduction of HIV transmission rates and increased treatment adoption in Indigenous communities. Today we were able to announce a further $3 million for the leaders in those communities to assist with reduction of HIV and decreasing stigma relating to HIV across Australia. But we were also, very importantly, today able to build on the announcement of PrEP and its availability—it is assisting 32,000 people across Australia—with a new announcement of Dovato, which will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This medicine, which will help patients with HIV manage their condition and allow it to be treated as a chronic disease, will help 850 patients who would otherwise have had to pay over $8½ thousand a year access it for as little as $6.50 a script. It's a medicine which changes lives. It's a medicine which extends lives. It's a medicine which improves lives. It's a medicine which builds on three decades of commitment to collective, bipartisan action for HIV and AIDS in Australia.