Queensland Health will add an extra 1000 places to a potentially life-saving HIV medication trial, Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick announced today.
Mr Dick said the extra places meant up to 3000 Queenslanders could now have access to the drug PrEP.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication that, if taken as directed, dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission in HIV negative people.
“The Palaszczuk Government has long recognised PrEP’s potential in helping to achieve a virtual elimination of HIV transmissions by 2020,” he said.
“In the absence of leadership from the Commonwealth, in early 2016 I announced that we would fund 2000 places for an expanded four-year QPrEP’d trial.
“To date, 1970 of these places have been filled, hence the need for expansion.
“I’ve asked the department to put in place arrangements for another 1000 people to have the opportunity to access this effective treatment which has the ability to save lives.”
“While I am proud of the Government’s achievement in making PrEP available in Queensland, it has always been our position that PrEP should be available through the PBS.
“I again call on the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, to fast track the negotiations on price with the drug manufacturers so that this medication can be made affordable and in a uniform manner throughout Australia.”
The announcement follows an HIV Roundtable of around 80 clinicians and community leaders in Cairns earlier this week. The Roundtable aimed to share insights about improving engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to reduce HIV transmissions and achieve better sexual health outcomes.
“Sexual health and HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be considered in a culturally appropriate way with respect and confidentiality,” Mr Dick said.
“If we are to achieve our shared goal of the virtual elimination of HIV in Queensland by 2020, we must reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in every community.
Mr Dick said the HIV Roundtable was an initiative of the new Sexual Health Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“The Committee will work with the North Queensland Hospital and Health Services and community organisations to identify the type of support required to manage HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and prevent new transmissions occurring,” he said.
The North Queensland HIV Roundtable aligns with the Queensland Government’s $15.8 million commitment over three years to support the actions of the North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexually Transmissible Infections Action Plan 2016-2021.
The action plan is specifically aimed at reducing the burden of STIs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern Queensland.
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick