The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and HIV Malta have welcomed Opposition Leader Adrian Delia’s recent call to make HIV prevention medicine (PrEP) free. In a joint statement, both organisations praised the recent increase in dialogue related to PrEP which was introduced to Malta around two years ago.
The press release also acknowledges Health Minister Chris Fearne’s commitment to introducing PrEP trials as well as parliamentary secretary for equality Rosianne Cutajar’s promise to make the drug more widely accessible. More recently, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia made a statement of a similar calibre, highlighting the importance of PrEP and its availability for LGBTQ+ people.
MGRM and HIV Malta took the opportunity to welcome these statements as scope for research to explore best practices available for the health authorities. Beyond this, they highlighted the need for robust educational campaigns to combat misconceptions surrounding HIV, particularly on how it affects people regardless of their sexual orientation.
“HIV is a virus that does not discriminate. This calls for a wider discussion into who needs the medication, not looking at sexuality or gender, but at who needs the treatment and why,” they said.
They also stressed current price barriers surrounding such anti-HIV medicine, including PEP, the emergency medicine for post-exposure of HIV.
“We will reiterate the importance of making all HIV medication more accessible, not least PEP, which currently carries a price tag of EUR 600.”
Meanwhile, PrEP activist group PrEPingMalta also released an online statement welcoming the words of Adrian Delia. However, they took the opportunity to warn against the usage of healthcare and civil rights as possible leverage for political gain.
“PrEP and healthcare at large should not be used as a tactic or lament against government policies. Healthcare, access to medication and civil rights should not be politicised.”
Similar to the other organisations, PrEPingMalta reiterated the need to combat harmful HIV stereotypes:
“We would also like to take this opportunity to say that PrEP is also suitable for heterosexual people who practice high risk sex.”
“HIV is not Santa Clause. It does not care if you have been naughty or nice. It does not discriminate, and we should make PrEP available for free to whoever qualifies for it. We have enough internationally endorsed protocols to rely on.”