The provincial government has announced on Saturday that it will be an expensive HIV prevention drug.
Prime Minister Rachel Notley made the surprise announcement for a standing ovation during the Premier & # 39; s Pride Brunch at the Hyatt Regency Calgary on Saturday.
On October 1, the province will provide universal coverage to eligible Aliens for Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a daily tablet that prevents the spread of HIV.
Currently, PrEP costs about $ 3,000 per year or $ 250 per month, according to the Alberta government.
"By making it accessible and affordable for people at higher risk of getting HIV, we can reduce the incidence of HIV," said Notley. "It's that simple."
Alberta is the last to join B.C., Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the coverage of the drug.
In the past few years, HIV rates have increased, with an increase of 11.6 percent in cases from 2015 to 2016, according to the most recent federal data – Alberta has the fourth highest rate of new HIV cases in Canada.
Since 1985, more than 84,000 people have been diagnosed as HIV-positive, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.
So with those statistics in mind, the coverage of the drug is considered necessary.
"It is a huge step forward to get public coverage and access," said Pam Krause, president and CEO of the Center for Sexuality.
She said that the "90 to 99 percent" drug is effective in preventing HIV.
The costs of the disease for society are very high, Krause said.
"HIV remains quite persistent in the community of men who have sex with men," Krause said. "It is therefore very important that we look not only at universal strategies but at targeted strategies, so that people can stay safe and remain sexually active and comfortable in their community."
It's about removing barriers and working on reducing stigma, she explained.
"Safe sex remains extremely important under all circumstances, but really, HIV is not just an STD," Krause said.
"HIV remains, whether we often see it or not, as the potential life-terminating disease, so anything we can do to promote people to be safer and healthier in our society, in essence, why not?"
In the current state, few doctors can prescribe PrEP. Krause wants to see this change, along with more drug education and improved access.
People in the medical world praise the announcement of coverage and what it can do for public health.
"This is real progress for people in preventing a highly destructive disease, a highly communicable disease that lowers costs and saves lives," said David Swann, an MLA and former physician.
"This is clearly a prevention program for harm reduction by public health that is badly needed all over the country," he added.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.