Queensland will soon have a significant increase in the size of its PrEP trial giving people access to the HIV prevention pill.
In a landmark partnership between the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) and the HIV Foundation Queensland (HIVFQ), the state’s current trial, QPrEP, will expand from its existing size of 150 participants.
The news announced today comes after talks were held between the three stakeholders following mounting pressure on Dick to act swiftly and improve access to PrEP, given progress in other states and calls from health experts and the community.
“We want to work together to grow this number to give even more Queenslanders a chance to benefit from this important medication and prevent the spread of HIV in our state.”
Dick announced the formation of a working group between the government, QuAC and HIVFQ to work on rolling out the expanded trial.
“This group will commence work within the next 14 days and I expect them to make recommendations to government regarding an expansion of the project within two months.” he said.
QuAC Executive Director Michael Scott said the expansion will help Queensland reach national goals of ending new HIV transmissions.
“To reach the 2020 goal of zero new HIV notifications, all prevention mechanisms must be embraced, including increased access to PrEP,” he said.
“QuAC applauds the Palaszczuk Government for taking this proactive stance on PrEP and HIV prevention.”
HIVFQ Chair Dr Darren Russell, who oversaw the first stages of the QPrEP trial said that the proof that PrEP works is already there.
“The Foundation has long championed the evidence around treatment as prevention for HIV, from both a clinical and community perspective,” Russell said.
“The evidence around PrEP is clear and a rapid scale up of access to PrEP for Queenslanders is essential to end new HIV transmissions by 2020.
“I congratulate the Palaszczuk Government on seizing this unique opportunity that will enable an historic turning point in the battle to end HIV and look forward to working with the government and QuAC on this important issue.”
Dick repeated his call for the federal government to act on finally approving PrEP.
“With this project and this tablet, we have a strong chance of further reducing the number of new HIV cases we see in Queensland,” Dick said.
“But the best way for PrEP to become widely available and accessible to those who need it is through its approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“The Palaszczuk Government is stepping up to the mark, but it is crucial that the Federal Government plays its part in HIV prevention by ensuring a PBS listing for this valuable medication.”