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Alberta, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made Saturday by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley during a Calgary's Pride fundraising event in Calgary that beginning Oct. 1, Alberta will be providing universal coverage for PrEP, an HIV-prevention drug, which is up to 99 percent effective at stopping the transmission of the disease, media reports said.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is spread primarily by unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions, unsterilized needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
The virus weakens the immune system and is not curable, it can only be managed with treatment.
If untreated, the virus can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which severely damages immune system.
According to non-profit organization HIV Community Link, out of about 80,500 Canadians diagnosed with HIV, about one in five people don't know they have been infected.
In Alberta alone last year, more than 200 people were diagnosed.
The generic of the medication is $250 per month — about $8.30 a day — and the brand name, Truvada, can cost up to $1,000 per month.
The high cost of PrEP is a barrier for many people, and Notley said that by making it more accessible to public would reduce the incidence ofs of HIV.
Alberta is the seventh province in Canada to introduce PrEp coverage.
Along with coverage, Notley said with the government's plan to increase the number of physicians, designated to prescribe PrEP, it will be available across the province.
Alex Smith. a Calgary nurse and founder of the Davie Buyers Club, a website and a guide that helps people to access PrEP and shows Canadians how to order a 90-day supply of the medication.
90-day supply of the medication is the maximum legal quantity for personal use that can be imported from India, Thailand and Singapore into Canada.
Further details on how coverage will be rolled out in the coming week will be provided by Sarah Hoffman, Alberta's Health Minister, said Notley,
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)