The Queensland AIDS Council will receive $870,000 in state government funding in a bid to get more Queenslanders at risk of HIV to take up prevention medication PrEP.
PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a once-daily pill that has been found to dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission in HIV-negative people, in conjunction with other safe sex measures. On April 1, the federal government listed the medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, dropping its cost from as high as $2000 a month to $40 per month.
The Queensland Government has run a free trial of the medication for thousands of participants since late 2016 but last week moved to end the trial 18 months early, pulling funding from the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC), which was administering the trial.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said on Saturday the new funding would be provided to QuAC over the next two and a half years so the organisation can “work collaboratively with GPs and other primary healthcare providers” across the state to increase awareness of PrEP.
“It’s now important to ensure people moving off the successful QPrEP trial receive the care and support they need to ensure marginalised and at-risk Queenslanders are able to access this medication,” he said.
“The transition period will go through until 31 December 2020, ensuring participants can transition from the trial and to reach new at-risk Queenslanders and connect them with Medicare services.
“The funding will also go toward helping people who may not have been on the trial to navigate or access health services, for example providing assistance to find a PrEP prescriber.”
Recent advances in HIV treatment
QuAC President Peter Black said the funding would help the organisation ensure trial participants who wished to continue to access PrEP can do so with minimal interruption to their medication regime.
Black said recent biomedical advances in HIV treatment like PrEP and Treatment as Prevention (TasP) were positive developments for the LGBTIQ community.
“Yet there remains work to done ensuring everyone in our community has access to these advances, and this funding will help us reach the most vulnerable and at risk community members,” he said.
“QuAC is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all of Queensland’s LGBTIQ, Brotherboy and Sistergirl communities.”
Medicare-eligible Queenslanders can access PrEP through any doctor or nurse practitioner and prescriptions can be filled at local pharmacies.
For more information about PrEP, visit QuAC’s ComePrepd website here.