Minister for Health Cameron Dick believes advances in HIV treatments and testing technologies means transmission could be virtually eliminated in Queensland by the end of the decade.
To that end, the Queensland Government has announced it will provide $6 million over four years to make the state-wide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) project available to more than 2000 Queenslanders.
The original project provided access to PrEP for 50 men who have sex with men in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, as a means of preventing HIV transmission.
The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) will play a crucial role in the expanded project to ensure that it reaches the people who will benefit.
QuAC executive director Michael Scott told the ABC the trials were a courageous move by the Queensland Government and the drug would change lives.
The trial would be offered to all Queensland men, not just those living in major cities.
“We’re talking about sexual health for gay men, which often has the potential to be controversial, but the reality is, it’s a smart decision by any state government to invest in the sexual health of its people,” Mr Scott said.
“PrEP is a game changer … we know it works and prevents the HIV transmission for people who do not use a condom every time.
“PrEP is just another preventative tool and we hope one day it will be normalised, just as the pill is for women.
“We’re not just talking about stopping the transmission of HIV, but there are also mental health benefits that come along with PrEP, allowing gay men to have sex without fear of HIV because that fear is crippling within our community and has been for 30 years.”
International clinical trials have proven that when taken once a day, PrEP can reduce the risk of infection by up to 90 per cent.
People can register their interest by calling QuAC’s Clinic 30.