People in Queensland who are at risk of HIV are being encouraged to access preventive medication PrEP through the state’s QPrEPD trial, rather than waiting for it to become available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The Queensland AIDS Council said places are still available in the trial for people who want the medication now, QNews has reported.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee last week recommended PrEP to be federally subsidised.

PrEP, known also by the brand name Truvada, is a daily pill that virtually eliminates the risk of contracting HIV.

Once subsidised, it will become widely available through GPs and pharmacies at a dramatically reduced cost.

The QPrEPD trial allows people who may be at risk of HIV, including gay and bisexual men, to access PrEP at no cost.

“The [subsidy] announcement is undoubtedly a breakthrough for HIV prevention in Australia, and will likely be a turning point from which we see the decline of new HIV transmissions Australia-wide,” said Queensland AIDS Council executive director Michael Scott.

“Whilst PrEP will not be available through the PBS immediately, we urge people not to put off accessing PrEP now.

“Anyone considering accessing PrEP shouldn’t wait for a PBS listing date, as PrEP is free and accessible through the current QPrEP study.”

The QPrEPD trial is running from 20 sites around Queensland, including Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

The Victorian government has also announced that PrEP will continue to be available through the state’s PrEPX trial until June, allowing people to continue their use of the medication until it becomes federally subsidised.

In New South Wales, community health group ACON has advised people accessing PrEP through the EPIC-NSW trial to continue taking their medication as normal and stand by for news.

“More information will be available in the coming weeks and months, and you will receive communication about any changes soon,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

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