MORE than 1,200 Queenslanders are participating in the state government’s $6 million four-year expanded PrEP trial as part of efforts to prevent HIV transmission.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the strong uptake demonstrated the high demand for the Q-PrEP trial, which has filled more than half of its 2,000 places, less than five months after its launch.

“The research shows PrEP can dramatically reduce the risk of contracting HIV, so this trial really has the potential to positively impact the lives of Queenslanders at high risk of contracting the virus,” he said.

“We still have 800 places available on the trial so we’re encouraging eligible Queenslanders to get involved.”

Twenty Q-PrEP trial sites from the Gold Coast to Cairns and west to Mt Isa and Toowoomba are now operational, including sexual health services, general practices, and community-based organisations across Queensland.

The medication is free to trial participants.

Recent data shows that there have been 48 HIV notifications compared to 57 in the same period last year—a reduction of almost 16 per cent.

“This is an encouraging sign but the challenge now is to sustain this reduction which will require a strong response from the community,” Dick said.

Increased testing for HIV and significant uptakes in treatment by HIV positive men in Queensland are highlighted by the release of the 2016 Queensland Gay Community Periodic Survey.

The survey shows more queer men testing for HIV, and more having regular tests. HIV-positive men on antiretroviral treatment increased from 70 per cent in 2012 to 96 per cent in 2016.

The findings were welcomed by Adjunct Associate Professor Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.

“This is a great testament to Queensland’s efforts and the continuing responsiveness of communities to HIV,” O’Donnell said.

“Queensland is seeing striking year on year increases in HIV testing and HIV treatment.

“We can take real comfort that even after 35 years, gay and bisexual men remain engaged and proactive around HIV prevention and treatment.

“Results like these don’t occur by accident. They require enormous effort by community organisations that are trusted and credible with those who are at risk of HIV.”

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