Trial of a new HIV prevention drug commences in the ACT

PrEP trial

Two Canberra health clinics have this week started enrolling participants in a trial of the HIV prevention drug, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

The trial will assess the impact of PrEP amongst those at highest risk of becoming infected with HIV. Clinical studies have demonstrated PrEP can prevent at risk HIV negative people from becoming infected with HIV using antiretroviral medication.

The ACT Government is providing more than $110,000 to support the local trial, which will include up to 315 participants over 15 months. It will be conducted through the Canberra Sexual Health Centre at Canberra Hospital and the Interchange General Practice in the city.

The local trial is part of the Expanded Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Implementation in Communities in NSW Trial (EPIC-NSW trial) funded by NSW Health and run by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

The ACT has recently removed AIDS from the notifiable disease list as it is no longer considered to be a useful population health measure of the HIV epidemic. With the number of new notifications of HIV infections in the ACT increasing in recent years, prevention and reducing the transmission rates of HIV and other blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections is a priority for the ACT Government.

In 2016, ACT Health developed a Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Sexually Transmissible Infections: ACT Statement of Priorities 2016-20 that has helped to guide an evidence-based approach to the prevention and treatment of blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections in the ACT.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris thanked the community organisations who had worked with the Government to get the trial up and running.

“In releasing the Statement of Priorities last year, the Government announced that the ACT would be participating in the trial of this new and proven method of HIV prevention, as part a wide range of activities to support and improve the health outcomes of all people in the ACT,” Minister Fitzharris said.

“We thank a number of our community organisations who the Government has worked with to get the trial up and running.”

For Canberrans interested in finding out more about the EPIC-NSW trial, visit: https://epic-nswtrial.org.au.

For more information on local enrolment, visit the Canberra Sexual Health Centre at: www.health.act.gov.au/our-services/canberra-sexual-health-centre.

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