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EPIC Project May Revolutionise HIV Prevention

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On December 1st (World AIDS Day), NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced a project which will make Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available to people at high risk of HIV acquisition. Many are hailing this a game-changer in the fight against HIV.

01 December 2015

On December 1st (World AIDS Day), NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced a project which will make Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available to people at high risk of HIV acquisition. Many are hailing this a game-changer in the fight against HIV.

“The project will roll out through general practice and public clinic sites,” said Vice President of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) Dr Mark Bloch.

“This could turn out to be a major turning point towards ending HIV. Modelling indicates that a rapid and comprehensive roll out of PrEP could reduce new HIV infections by 50%”

The EPIC-NSW Project announced by Minister Skinner will be led by the Kirby Institute, and supported by NSW Health, ACON, Positive Life NSW and ASHM. The project will assess the effectiveness of PrEP in an Australian context.

The trials will make PrEP, which is currently not approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, available to 3,700 people in NSW at high risk of acquiring HIV. The drug carries the brand name Truvada. It is an antiretroviral medication also used in the treatment of people living with HIV.

“This is a very exciting development in the HIV prevention landscape,” said Levinia Crooks, CEO of ASHM. “We thank the Minister for her vision and commitment to ending HIV transmission by 2020.

PrEP is not considered a replacement for condoms, as PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmissible infections. However, combined with regular testing and condoms, PrEP has been shown to be a very efficacious weapon against HIV.”

For more information about the EPIC-NSW Study, visit http://www.endinghiv.org.au/nsw/epic

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