MORE than 600 Queenslanders have already expressed interest in joining the state government’s $6 million dollar expanded pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial that kicked off today.

Minister for Health Cameron Dick believes PrEP can play a huge role in preventing the spread of HIV.

In 2015 there were 203 new diagnoses of HIV, a 17 per cent decrease on the previous year and a two per cent decrease on the previous four-year average.

“While it is pleasing to see a reduction in the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV, the fact remains that there are still too many Queenslanders contracting HIV,” Dick said.

“Twenty trial sites have been registered, including sexual health services, general practices, and community-based organisations in twelve hospital and health services across Queensland.

“Implementation will be staggered over three months but some sites in Cairns, Townsville, and Brisbane will start enrolling participants from today.”

The state government announced it would invest $6 million over four years to expand the PrEP implementation trial earlier this year.

The expanded trial will allow up to 2,000 Queenslanders to take part, particularly those at high risk of acquiring HIV.

The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) welcomed the commencement of the trial, and will play a crucial role in the project to ensure that PrEP reaches the people who will most benefit from the HIV prevention strategy.

Executive Director of QuAC, Michael Scott, said a lot of work had gone into making the trial a reality.

“A significant amount of work has gone into the development and implementation of this project, and today we will see the results of this hard work,” he said.

“We know it will be successful because collaboration has been central to the HIV response across Australia for the past three decades.”

PrEP is an effective tool to prevent HIV transmission, however the trial will involve more than simply taking a pill per day.

It’s a program for people at risk of HIV transmission to test every three months for HIV and other STIs, and involves taking PrEP on a daily basis.

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