A long-awaited sexual health policy for the country will be published for public consultation “soon”, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Tuesday.

The policy was originally meant to be released in 2021 but was sent back to the drawing board, because the research it was based on was found to be years out of date

Its revision was further delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which Fearne said had caused other health issues to be sidelined. 

The sexual policy Malta currently relies on was published in 2010 and was already considered outdated by GU Clinic doctors at the time of publication. 

Fearne gave an update on plans for the new policy in parliament in reply to a question from PN MP Graziella Attard Previ. 

She asked the minister when the government was planning to implement an electoral promise to include PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) in the government formulary. 

The drugs are used to prevent exposure to HIV before sexual contact or when a person discovers they could have been exposed to HIV after a sexual encounter. 

In 2018 a government-drafted action plan for LGBTIQ equality recommended making PEP and PrEP available for free.

Fearne said that the new sexual health policy will include a plan on how the drugs will eventually be included in the government formulary. 

In 2021, Malta was found to have the highest rate of HIV diagnoses in Europe with a rate of 15.9 per 100,000 population, much higher than the EU average of 3.7. 

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