LESS than a week after it was announced that Victoria’s PrEP trial would expand to include 2600 participants, the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has opened a new PrEP clinic and full STI screening service at its PRONTO! rapid HIV testing clinic.

Clients can now book appointments online for the PrEP clinic, where an experienced GP takes them through the basics of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.

The GP can also help with accessing PrEP, through baseline tests, prescriptions, and current information on how to safely and legally import PrEP drugs from overseas.

VAC chief executive Simon Ruth said public interest in the state’s PrEP trial is flowing in, “but until it begins the easiest way to access PrEP will continue to be through overseas imports using a prescription from a GP”.

“It’s exciting to see so many Victorians keen to take responsibility for their sexual health, and the new PrEP clinic at PRONTO! will make sure our community has another way to access this game-changing HIV prevention method sooner rather than later,” Ruth added.

PrEP is a HIV-prevention drug, where HIV-negative people take medication to prevent the transmission of HIV.

In Australia, Truvada — a PrEP drug — is still awaiting approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. A decision is not expected to occur until the end of 2017 and if approved, it would then need to go through the process of being listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This delay is the reason why many gay men choose to import the HIV prevention drug from overseas in the meantime.

Alongside the PrEP clinic, PRONTO! is introducing full STI testing for the first time, with tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis now offered as part of a standard appointment for rapid HIV testing.

Appointments also include the option for a parallel HIV blood test, which has a shorter window period than the rapid test.

Clients who test positive for STIs can be referred to a new, in-house GP for treatment, or details can be forwarded to a regular GP if preferred.

PRONTO! manager Peter Locke said despite these new additions to the service, it will continue to feel like the safe space clients have come to trust over the past two and a half years.

“Existing clients who have come to trust PRONTO!’s world-class, peer-led model can rest assured that the peers are still running the same service, we’re just offering a few additional options for STI testing,” Locke said.

To book appointments for the PrEP clinic, a rapid HIV-test or full STI testing, visit pronto.org.au.

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