Queensland Health will add an extra 1,000 places to a potentially life-saving trial of the HIV prevention drug PrEP, Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick announced today.
Dick said the extra places meant up to 3,000 Queenslanders could now have access to the drug PrEP.
“In the absence of leadership from the Commonwealth, in early 2016 I announced that we would fund 2,000 places for an expanded four-year QPrEP’d trial.”
Dick said that with 1970 of the places already filled, arrangements will be put in place for another 1,000 people to access the trial.
“While I am proud of the government’s achievement in making PrEP available in Queensland, it has always been our position that PrEP should be available through the PBS,” he said.
“I again call on the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, to fast track the negotiations on price with the drug manufacturers so that this medication can be made affordable and in a uniform manner throughout Australia.”
The Queensland AIDS Council welcomed the news of the extra trial places.
“There is no doubt that PrEP has already prevented many new HIV notifications in Queensland, and we recognise the strong leadership taken by Mr Cameron Dick to invest further into HIV prevention in Queensland,” said executive director Michael Scott.
The announcement follows an HIV roundtable of around 80 clinicians and community leaders in Cairns earlier this week, which aimed to share insights about improving engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to reduce HIV transmissions and achieve better sexual health outcomes.
“Sexual health and HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be considered in a culturally appropriate way with respect and confidentiality,” Dick said.
“If we are to achieve our shared goal of the virtual elimination of HIV in Queensland by 2020, we must reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in every community.”
The HIV roundtable is an initiative of the new Sexual Health Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“The Committee will work with the North Queensland Hospital and Health Services and community organisations to identify the type of support required to manage HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and prevent new transmissions occurring,” Dick said.
The North Queensland HIV Roundtable aligns with the Queensland Government’s $15.8 million commitment over three years to support the actions of the North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexually Transmissible Infections Action Plan 2016–2021.
The action plan is specifically aimed at reducing the burden of STIs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern Queensland.