Saturday, 26 August 2017

HIV infections lowest since 1985 - NSW

Congratulations to all involved, including an engaged community taking part in their health outcomes. 

Particularly with the introduction of a very large PrEP trial targeted at high risk groups, infection rates in New South Wales have plummeted since last year. That combined with all other strategies to end the transmission of HIV looks like the state may well reach their target of just about ending HIV transmission by 2020. What a great effort!

I'd even have to congratulate the state gov even though it is a Lieberal one. They made HIV meds here free by picking up the co-pay fee after the PBS had subsidized it. The more people on meds the better as it's proven by studies now if you have an undetectable HIV viral load it's just about impossible to pass it on.

NSW was the first state in Australia to trial implementing PrEP at scale, and EPIC-NSW currently has more than 6,700 people at high risk of HIV participating in the trial. The study provides HIV negative people at high risk of HIV with a medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. When taken daily, PrEP prevents HIV negative people from acquiring HIV.

 “The strategy behind the EPIC-NSW trial was the rapid and targeted rollout of PrEP in the community,” said Professor Cooper. “In close collaboration with our key partners at NSW Health, ACON, and private and public clinics across the state, we have successfully targeted the thousands of people in the state at high risk of HIV, and the figures released today are confirmation that this strategy works.

 “We are seeing a rapid decline in new HIV infections, particularly among gay and bisexual men, the main population targeted by EPIC-NSW. The number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV within 12 months of infection in the first half of 2017 is 39 per cent lower than the same period of time over the past six years, and is the lowest on record since 1985.

 “We are extremely fortunate in NSW to have government, clinicians, community and researchers working together towards a variety of HIV prevention strategies including increased testing, improving treatment uptake and providing access to PrEP. Thanks to these partnerships and strategies, evidence-based policy, and a strong response from the community, NSW is on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission by 2020,” said Professor Cooper.

 PrEP was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use in Australia in June 2016, but due to cost, most people in Australia can currently only access PrEP through research trials. On Friday, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) deferred its decision to place PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), citing high costs of the therapy and the need for further information about the cost-effectiveness modelling.

 “The results released in NSW today provide strong evidence to support wide availability of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission,” said Professor Cooper. “We are working closely with PBAC to provide further information on the cost benefit of PrEP in Australia, and are hopeful to see PrEP on the PBS in the near future.” The Kirby Institute  

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