VICTORIA’S pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial was launched this week with over 1,300 same-sex attracted men already signed up to access the HIV prevention pill.

The 20-month long PrEPX study has the capacity to provide monthly scripts to 2,600 people in Victoria, after the state government announced $1.4 million in funding earlier this year.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy launched the trial on Monday, while calling on the federal government to review the recent ruling against listing the PrEP medication Truvada on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which would have made the drug cheap and accessible.

HIV advocates and health organisations were outraged earlier this month when the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee rejected submissions to have it listed on the PBS.

“We know PrEP is invaluable when it comes to stopping the spread of HIV – it has the power to prevent infections and save lives,” Hennessy said.

“A decision not to list Truvada on the PBS is extremely disappointing.

“The federal government needs to stop delaying and make this drug more affordable and accessible for people at risk of HIV.”

The PrEPX study is expected to reduce new HIV infections in Victoria by up to 30 per cent over the next few years.

Chief Executive of the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) Simon Ruth also expressed his dismay at Truvada not being listed on the PBS.

“The recent news that PrEP won’t be recommended for listing underscores how important PrEPX is for Victorians at risk of HIV,” he said.

“VAC has been working for years now to make sure gay men and others at risk of HIV understand what PrEP is, how it works, and why it’s important.”

The study will operate out of a number of sites including the Alfred Hospital and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, with plans to expand to large regional cities like Geelong and Wodonga.

PrEP is the latest anti-retroviral medication in the fight against HIV.

Evidence has shown that when taken consistently it is 96 to 98 per cent effective in preventing HIV infection.

Find out more about the PrEPX study and how to sign up.

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