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Norway Becomes First Country to Offer Free PrEP

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The HIV-preventive drug will be offered as part of Norway's National Health Service.

Norway's minister for heath and social care, Bent Hoie, made the announcement earlier this week that the HIV-prevention drug, PrEP, will be offered free of charge as part of Norway's National Health Service.

Truvada, the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug, can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 86 percent, according to a UK study. It has been cited by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an important preventive measure for HIV and AIDS. It is currently available in the United States, Canada, France, South Africa--and now Norway.

The decision to not only allow--but provide the drug cost-free--comes after two years of lobbying by HIV Norway, the Institute of Public Health, and the Health Directorate.

"PrEP will contribute to reducing the rate of new infections in the gay community, as gay men are facing a risk of infection much higher than the general population," said Leif-Ove Hansen, the president of HIV Norway.

HIV charities across the globe are commending this move. Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK, said: "Norway's decision to provide PrEP is another great step forward for HIV prevention in Europe. PrEP is a game changer and, when used alongside condoms, regular testing and effective treatment, it can help end the HIV epidemic for good."

"[Governments] must stop with their delays and confusion," he concluded, "and make PrEP immediately available to those at risk of HIV."

With this move, Norway reiterates their already progressive stance on LGBT rights.

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