PrEP in Australia: Trials into HIV prevention drug rolls out in Sydney
In the run up to World AIDS Day, the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW has launched a study into PrEP, which will examine the use of HIV treatment by HIV negative people to reduce their risk of acquiring the virus.
The PrELUDE Study (NSW PrEP Demonstration Project) is the largest study of its kind to be conducted in Australia.
Researchers will explore what it’s like for people who are HIV negative to take a daily dose of Truvada, a combination therapy currently used to treat HIV, as 'pre-exposure prophylaxis' of HIV (PrEP).
“Several important clinical trials have established that PrEP is an effective HIV prevention strategy for both gay men and heterosexuals,” Dr Iryna Zablotska-Manos, chief investigator of the study at the Kirby Institute said.
“But whether PrEP confers high rates of protection in real life situations and is a feasible strategy to implement still requires further investigation, and that is what we are seeking to do through PrELUDE.”
300 people will be enrolled for the study, with a focus on people at higher risk of getting HIV. Initially, the study will recruit participants in four large HIV and sexual health services in NSW which currently provide anti-retrovirals as treatment and as non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis of HIV. These will include:
• Royal Prince Alfred Sexual Health (RPASH)
• St. Vincent’s Hospital (SVH)
• Sydney Sexual Health Centre (SSHC)
• Western Sydney Sexual Health Clinic
As the study goes on it is expected other health providers in NSW will be engaged.
Nicolas Parkhill, Chief Executive Officer of the AIDS Council of NSW said the organisation will be watching the study closely.
"The commencement of the trial in NSW is exciting for gay men who are looking for additional ways in which they may reduce HIV transmission risk and this trial will inform NSW’s next steps when it comes to PrEP implementation," Parkhill said.
"That’s why ACON warmly welcomes the Kirby Institute’s HIV PrEP study – we are confident that it will produce the same encouraging results here in Australia that we have seen overseas.
"If found to be effective, ACON strongly believes that gay men should have access to the full range of proven prevention technologies, and the early indications are that PrEP offers a major risk reduction strategy for individuals at high risk of HIV”.
Craig Cooper, Chief Executive Officer, Positive Life NSW said the study was an exciting initiative.
"The Kirby Institute and NSW Ministry of Health are to be congratulated for progressing this critical prevention intervention for people at higher risk of HIV infection," Cooper said.
"Every HIV diagnosis is one too many and PrELUDE will assist in achieving an end to HIV transmission.”