After the Queensland government ended the state’s PrEP trial early this month, the Queensland AIDS Council’s (QuAC) state government funding has been restored.
The $740,000 in funding allocated to QuAC was promised through to January 2020 due, but removed by Queensland Health due to the listing of the daily HIV-prevention pill on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
“In 2017, there were 12 new cases of AIDS reported in Queensland,” said Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles at the time.
“Compared to the late ’80s and early ’90s, where there were hundreds of AIDS cases notified each year, this is a significant achievement which is largely due to highly active anti-retroviral treatments for HIV.
“These treatments lower the viral load of HIV in the blood to virtually undetectable levels, which means they do not transmit HIV to their partners.
“Research shows that people living with HIV who are on this treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not develop AIDS.”
QuAC’s President Peter Black expressed concern that the PrEP trial had been ended early.
“For all the reasons we articulated to Queensland Health, everyone at QuAC is obviously very disappointed that the QPrEPd trial is coming to a premature end.”
Black noted that QuAC had lost funding before and had always rebounded to serve the health needs of LGBTI Queenslanders and people living with HIV.
Over the weekend, Queensland Health restored $870,000 in funding to the organisation, The Brisbane Times reported.
The restored funding was provided to help those on the QPrEPd trial transition onto the PBS to ensure the trial ending early doesn’t lead to participants dropping off the drug entirely.
The funding will run through to the end of 2020, and was also designated to help QuAC better reach at-risk Queenslanders after a dramatic increase in HIV transmissions in northern Queensland.
“It’s now important to ensure people moving off the successful QPrEP trial receive the care and support they need to ensure marginalised and at-risk Queenslanders are able to access this medication,” Miles said in a statement.
“The transition period will go through until 31 December 2020, ensuring participants can transition from the trial and to reach new at risk Queenslanders and connect them with Medicare services.
“This funding boost will support QuAC to broaden its reach and work collaboratively with GPs and other primary healthcare providers across the State to increase awareness of PrEP.
“The funding will also go toward helping people who may not have been on the trial to navigate or access health services, for example providing assistance to find a PrEP prescriber.”
“Biomedical advances such as PrEP and Treatment as Prevention (TasP) are truly wonderful developments for our community, as was demonstrated by the recent removal of AIDS as a notifiable condition earlier this month and by the early success of QPrEPd trial,” Black said in response to the funding announcement.
“Yet there remains work to done ensuring everyone in our community is has access to these advances, and this funding will help us reach the most vulnerable and at risk community members.
“QuAC is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all of Queensland’s LGBTI, brotherboy and sistergirl communities.”