Great interest in refunded HIV antiviral

Since Belgian health insurance funds started to partially refund antivirals that prevent HIV infection over a hundred Flemings have commenced using the drug Truvada. The users are not infected with HIV but their behaviour puts them at risk.

Tim Devriese is one of the users: "I run a high risk of being infected with HIV because I have sex with men. The medication is an important means of preventing this and so I went to the doctor and we agreed to start!"

A box of tablets for a month costs 500 euros, but thanks to the refund it only costs me 12 euros.

Belgium boasts eleven AIDS referral centres, e.g. the Instutute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. 79 candidates - all gay men - have come forward for use of the medication. At Ghent university hospital there are dozens of candidates.

Prof Steven Callens believes the refunding is a good idea: "Over a thousand Belgians are infected with HIV each and every year. Condoms alone can't sort it. Thanks to Truvada chances of rooting out the disease are greater than ever."

Eric Florence of the Institute for Tropical Medicine points out that candidates have to meet conditions: "There is a strict follow up. People on the drug need to see a doctor every three months. Checks are made on other STIs and the doctors make sure the therapy is followed too."

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