An extra 1000 Queenslanders will be given access to a drug trial that could help them reduce the chances of contracting HIV.

PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a preventative pill taken daily which, if taken as directed, dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission in HIV-negative people.

In early 2016 Health Minister Cameron Dick announced the Queensland government would fund 2000 places for an expanded four-year trial of the drug.

“To date, 1970 of these places have been filled, hence the need for expansion,” he said

“I’ve asked the department to put in place arrangements for another 1000 people to have the opportunity to access this effective treatment which has the ability to save lives.”

The medication is free to trial participants.

The PrEP trial is a part of the Palaszczuk government’s commitment to work towards the elimination of HIV transmissions in Queensland by 2020 as outlined in the Sexual Health Strategy.

Mr Dick said he believed PrEP should be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and called on the federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to fast-track negotiations with drug manufacturers.

There have been 150 new cases of HIV reported in Queensland this year so far, compared with 166 for the same period last year.

In 2016, 195 cases were recorded with Queensland Health.

The number of HIV tests performed at three Brisbane GP clinics with high HIV case-loads increased from 2049 in 2013-14 to 3636 in 2016-17, according to the latest HIV Foundation annual report.

Meanwhile, an HIV roundtable of about 80 clinicians and community leaders was held this week.

The event aimed to improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to reduce HIV transmissions.

“Sexual health and HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be considered in a culturally appropriate way with respect and confidentiality,” Mr 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.”

Author: Felicity Caldwell

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/more-queenslanders-to-benefit-from-lifesaving-hiv-trial-20171019-p4ywjv.html