Thousands of Victorians at high risk of HIV infection will now have access to the latest prevention treatment, with the Andrews Labor Government expanding access to HIV prevention medicine, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Bringing Victoria another step closer to achieving the virtual elimination of new HIV infections, the new and expanded trial will see up to 2,600 people access PrEP, through a joint partnership between the Labor Government, Alfred Health, Victorian AIDS Council and the Burnet Institute.
The new study, PrEPX, is expected to reduce new HIV infections in Victoria by up to 30 per cent, with an estimated 77 new HIV infections averted through the study over a 12 month period.
PrEP, the latest biomedical treatment in the fight against HIV, is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. When taken consistently it has been shown to be over 94 per cent effective at preventing HIV infection.
The Labor Government is developing an HIV strategy in partnership with the HIV sector to achieve the virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020, and access to PrEP will play a critical role in meeting this target.
Although PrEP has been licensed for use in the United States since 2012, the Federal Liberal Government is dragging its feet and PrEP still needs to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in Australia, and then listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
With this not expected to occur until the end of 2017, the Labor Government has taken action to ensure those high risk Victorians can access PrEP free of stigma or discrimination, when they need it.
We know stigma and discrimination can be a huge barrier to people seeking important prevention, treatment, support and care services, and we will continue to work to promote diversity and tackle stigma and discrimination wherever it exists.
The expanded study also aims to ensure we have the best model in place to provide ongoing access to PrEP, so high risk Victorians are getting the right treatment and support, at the right time and the right place.
As Australia’s first Fast-Track City, we are also committed to meeting the Joint United Nation goal of 90-90-90 by 2022 - where 90 per cent of people who are HIV positive know their status and are on treatment, and that 90 per cent of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“This is a huge step in the fight against HIV, and brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of virtual elimination of new HIV infection by 2020.”
“While the Federal Liberal Government continues to stall, we’re taking action to ensure thousands of Victorians can access PrEP safely and when they need it.”
“We will continue to work hard to reduce stigma and discrimination, and promote diversity so Victorians can access the HIV prevention, treatment and care services they need.”
Quotes attributable to Alfred Health CEO Professor Andrew Way
“As Victoria’s main clinical and research base for HIV services, Alfred Health through The Alfred’s HIV Service and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, is delighted to support this important study.”
“Alfred Health’s HIV Service Advisory Group has commented on how important the widespread use of anti-retroviral medication is to the community, and the health service is pleased to be able to make a positive response to this advice.”
Quotes attributable to Victorian AIDS Council CEO Simon Ruth
“PrEP is a vital tool for preventing HIV in people at risk, and VAC has been campaigning hard to make it available for years now.”
"We’re proud to work with our partners at The Alfred and the Department of Health & Human Services in taking this important step to provide Victorians with PrEP whilst we wait for Federal approval processes to make PrEP available through the PBS.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020