The Queensland Government has announced it will provide $6 million over four years to expand the state-wide pre-exposure prophylaxis (QPrEP) project.

Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the new funding would allow 2,000 participants to receive PrEP in the extended trial.

“The original project provided access to PrEP to 50 people across four Queensland Health Sexual Health Services in Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast and two general practices in Brisbane,” Mr Dick said in a statement.

“The success of this has led the working group, which included representation from the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) and the HIV Foundation Queensland, to recommend an extension of the QPrEP project.

“I am pleased we can now extend this project to offer more people at high risk of HIV another prevention option.”

QUAC executive director Michael Scott has labelled the new trial as a brave move by Minister Dick.

“I want to applaud the Minister for this ground breaking and courageous decision,” he told Star Observer.
“It will make a huge change to people’s lives. It’s a great step forward in HIV prevention in Queensland.”
Mr Scott said Queensland faced different challenges to New South Wales and Victoria, which had already announced PrEP trials.
“Our situation is always different, we have a different population. Queensland is geographically diverse,” he said.
“Reaching people in regional areas will be a challenge and we have a sizeable Indigenous population who we will be trying to reach in this trial.”
The logistics of how the trial will be rolled out have yet to be finalised but people can register their interest by calling QUAC’s Clinic 30.
“I think there’ll be more people (than the 2000 of the trial) wanting to access it,” Mr Scott said.

The expansion of the project will be led by the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, with trial places to be offered in Cairns, Townsville, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) will also be a trial site, which was welcomed by Member for Brisbane Central Grace Grace.

“QuAC is an iconic organisation in my electorate and throughout Queensland,” Ms Grace said in a statement.

“They are fantastic community advocates and are well placed to assist in expanding PrEP”.

Clinical trials for PrEP have proven it to be effective in preventing HIV transmission when it is taken on a daily basis.

HIV diagnoses in Queensland remain comparatively low by world standards, with .4.3 new cases per 100,000 people in 2015.

Approximately two-thirds of the 203 new cases of HIV in Queensland in 2015 were gay or bisexual men.

Minister Dick said advances in HIV treatments and testing technologies means transmission could be virtually eliminated in Queensland by the end of the decade.

He said the best way for PrEP to become widely available is for it to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

 

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