AUSTRALIA might be one step closer to getting PrEP next week when South Australian Greens Senator Robert Simms introduces a motion calling on the government to take action by removing barriers to accessing PrEP.
Simms plans to introduce the motion during Monday’s Senate sitting in the lead up to World AIDS Day on Tuesday and he believes most of the Senators should support the motion.
[showads ad=MREC]His motion will call on the Federal Government to “demonstrate leadership on HIV by urgently removing regulatory barriers to access to PrEP, rapid HIV tests and home self-tests, and as an interim measure, urgently explore policy options, including expanded trials in states and territories, to enable access to these important prevention tools”
“Australia is lagging behind… I think people have a right to control over their own health,” Simms told the Star Observer.
“This (PrEP) gives people the right to do that and for gay men it will have a life changing impact.
“If we can reduce the rate (of new HIV infections) like we’ve seen in San Francisco it will also have an impact in the wider community.”
ACON, Australia’s largest LGBTI health organisations, commended all parliamentarians who have supported the the fast tracking of PrEP to Australia.
“Given the regulatory barriers to the availability of PrEP and self-testing exist at the federal level, it is wonderful to see Federal Parliamentarian
The news comes as a new poster campaign in Melbourne and Sydney was launched today by the PrEP Action Now group, which admonishes the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and ACON for not acting fast or efficiently enough to bring PrEP to Australia.
The posters by the anonymous group — which is different to the similarly named PrEPaccessNow (PAN) group — have “fuck VAC’s accord” or “fuck ACON’s inaction” emblazoned on them and both ask “where’s our PrEP” and demand “no more hot air”.
According to a media statement circulated this morning, this is the group’s follow-up campaign to the the controversial “You Can Fuck Raw, PrEP Works” poster campaign around Melbourne in September.
“The AIDS Councils were set up around Australia for one purpose and one purpose only. To stop the transmission of HIV in our community and rid us of this constant fear,” PrEP Action Now said.
“In the recent decade they have presided over a failing condom message, rising HIV transmission rates and growing HIV bureaucracy. The gay community needs to know about PrEP.”
Both ACON and VAC have since released statements that dismissed the claims made by PrEP Action Now, and urged them to engage directly to find out more about their work.
PAN has also released a statement distancing itself and disagreeing with PrEP Action Now.
“[We] believe in cooperative community action, we do not believe that attacks and the spreading of vitriol by an individual who seeks to push an agenda will help the community achieve greater access and education of PrEP,” PAN co-founder Steve Spencer said.
“We understand the processes involved in bringing PrEP to Australia and we believe the premises of this recent poster campaign are incorrect and are not factual.”
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) executive director Rob Lake said he understood “people are pissed off” PrEP was still not available in Australia.
“I understand how angry people are… we are pissed off, we’re trying to get this (PrEP) pushed through,” he said.
“It’s not happening fast enough for us, because every time someone gets HIV, it set us back.”
Lake said it was important to respect the process of the PrEP needing to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) but acknowledged it was a frustratingly slow process, but said the Senate motion was a positive development.
“It’s one of the sacred things, in politics they won’t speed up and hassle the TGA and PBS,” he said.
“I know what it looks like (the slow process), I understand people are pissed off.
“We’ve got a great legal environment, a good health system and a dynamic community.
“It’s not that contentious, the studies on PrEP are so strong… and it’s the sort of thing we want and we’d be hoping it would be jointly supported by all of the parties.”
Lake will head to Canberra on Monday to lobby Senators to support Simms’ motion.
To encourage your local Senator to vote for Robert Simm’s motion you can call or email their office.
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