The WA AIDS Council is thrilled that the Government has confirmed funding for a WA PrEP demonstration project for 2,000 Western Australians. We’ve pushed this for what seems like forever, and the result is better than we dared to dream. We’ll release more details very soon on our websites and social media. This demonstration project will help eliminate new HIV transmission as we aim for our 2020 goals. CEO Andrew Burry has today made the following statement:
Statement on the Establishment of the WA PrEP Demonstration Project
We are thrilled that funding for the PrEP Demonstration Project has been secured and announced. We have been working hard for this for a long time, although I concede that at times our work may not have been visible. In the end, the outcome was greater than we dared to dream, and with 2,000 places available and the project funded for at least two years, it is the country’s largest on a per capita basis.
Whilst the funding is secured, there is still some work remaining before enrolments can commence. This is a partnership between the WA AIDS Council, the Department of Health and the Kirby Institute. Whilst the partnership has had plenty of dialog leading up to the announcement, final agreements between the parties still need to be concluded. This will not take long.
A ‘Demonstration Project’ is a research study. As such, the program must be run within strict protocols, and Ethics Approval must be obtained for each of the participating clinical sites. Training for the WA Chief Investigator and Research Supervisor(s) is also necessary. There are several sites included to ensure the project is well resourced, including clinical services and support, peer support and so on. Obtaining Ethics Approval is relatively complex and detailed and does take some time. Consequently, we have stated our goal as commencement being early in the second half of 2017. To us, this means July 1st, however if we can be fully ready earlier we will commence earlier.
The Demonstration Project is a criteria-based access program. This means that eligibility for participation will be determined based on HIV risk criteria. The aim is to rapidly enrol eligible people and follow them for up to two years while they take PrEP.
To facilitate the smooth entry of eligible people into the project, we will shortly establish a pre-registration program. Pre-registration will involve providing some details of your personal and sexual histories. All information collected will be secure and confidential.
We will also ensure details of implementation progress will be on both the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. People interested will also be able to subscribe to a special newsletter and questions can be directed to a specific email address (details below).
If you currently feel you need PrEP right now, please consider commencing immediately via the existing PrEP access programs using the personal importation process. Details on how to do this are also on the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. Current or previous PrEP use does not affect eligibility into the project.
There are many people who worked together in making this outcome possible. The team at the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program of the Department of Health shouldered a huge workload in developing costings of various proposals. The Kirby Institute also provided incredible support in helping us to develop a model that best suits Western Australia and takes advantage of some of our special features.
We aren’t the first ‘cab off the rank’, and similar large demonstration projects are underway in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Our colleagues at ACON, the Victorian AIDS Council, the Queensland AIDS Council, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, and the The National Association of People with HIV Australia have tirelessly supported our efforts and occasional disappointments as we worked this through.
I want to acknowledge also the great people in NSW Health who offered extraordinary advice, warned us of potential pitfalls and shared their own experiences so that we can start as efficiently as the NSW program has become. In particular, we acknowledge former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who shone a light of hope when wide scale PrEP access seemed beyond our reach.
Please keep in touch with our progress in the WA PrEP Demonstration Program by accessing our websites, subscribing to our newsletter and through pre-registration when it becomes available.
Chief Executive Officer
For Information on the WA PrEP Demonstration Project:
*UPDATE - November 2017 - PrEP Trial now underway.
Most HIV transmissions occur among gay men and other men who have sex with men in Australia. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is expected to make a substantial difference to the epidemic and is another strategy that can be employed to reduce risk of HIV infection.
So what is PrEP and how effective is it?
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a type of medication called Truvada that is already used in Australia to treat HIV. Truvada has been shown to be extremely effective as PrEP at reducing HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.
It is TGA approved?
Recently, the decision was made by the Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee (PBAC) to not recommend the funding of Truvada™ for use as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Although this is disappointing news, there are still ways of accessing PrEP. Currently, people can access the medication through clinical trials or by personally importing generic versions of the medication.
What’s an off-Label prescription?
In the absence of readily available Truvada for PrEP in WA, many guys are choosing to purchase it from overseas. This is easily done once you have a prescription provided by a doctor where they request the drug “off-label” i.e. for a use that the TGA doesn’t currently approve it for.
How do I get a PrEP prescription?
There are three places in Perth you can go to obtain a PrEP prescription:
How often do I take PrEP?
Adherence (how often you take your meds), is a massive factor in how effective the pill is. The current recommendation is to take PrEP daily – any less and you may not be protected.
Are there side-effects? I’ve heard there’s side effects!
Tenofovir, one of the drugs used in Truvada, has been linked to a number of common temporary side effects including vomiting and diarrhoea and in rare cases acute kidney damage. Getting a prescription from a doctor that is knowledgeable about PrEP is paramount in ensuring you are provided with the right precautions, maintain a steady supply of Truvada and undergo important monitoring for kidney dysfunction. If you are HIV positive without knowing, and were to commence PrEP assuming you were negative, you run the risk of developing resistance to drugs used in Truvada which could limit your HIV treatment options. This is why HIV testing prior to commencing PrEP is so important.
What about other STIs?
Condoms are still a big part of preventing HIV infection, as well as other STIs such as gonorrhoea and syphilis (which PrEP can’t protect you against). If you are having sex without condoms you must remember to have a sexual health screen every three to six months.
If you think PrEP would work for you, it’s easier to get than you think, and doesn’t cost as much as you would expect.
PrEP Access Now: https://www.prep.global/get-prep
PrEP'd For Change: Public facebook page
Sydney, Australia (10 November 2015) – Results of a national survey of gay men’s relationships suggest that their partnerships are highly varied and far more complex than just whether they are monogamous or not.
Of the 4215 men who participated in the study, almost 70 percent reported having a regular partner, but this included 26 percent with two or more regular partners.
“The diversity of partnerships observed through this study indicates the complexity of gay and bisexual men’s sexual behaviour,” said Professor Garrett Prestage.
WA AIDS Council has released a Community Update information leaflet regarding Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
Being educated about safe sex practices that fit into your lifestyle is the best way to equip yourself against HIV and STIs. Building up your ‘safe sex toolbox’ with prophylactic equipment like condoms and PrEP will assist you in making the best decisions for your health and wellbeing.
Click the image below to view the document.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Most sexually active people come into contact with it at some time in their lives. Gay men (and particularly HIV-positive gay men) are at a greater risk of developing some HPV-related cancers, compared to the general population.
For all the information you need to know about HPV visit the dedicated website here.