A new HIV drug is gearing up for a clinical trial in Australia and over 1,100 people in New South Wales (NSW) have already signed up to be part of it. According to doctors, the new HIV drug could help in significantly reducing the rates of infection.

The clinical trial at the Kirby Institute in Australia will test the new HIV prevention drug - pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

While PrEP is not yet listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, one of the drug's brand, Truvada, has received a license from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Professor Sharon Lewin from the Melbourne-based Doherty Institute expressed hopes that the NSW trial will help bring the new HIV drug to more Australians.

Lewin shared that other countries have seen the benefits of Truvada, especially in the United States. When the drug was introduced as a preventive medicine, the country saw significant reductions in the rates of new HIV infections.

"Alongside other prevention strategies, such as condom use and regular STI testing, PrEP moves us significantly closer to the goal of virtual elimination of HIV transmission in NSW," said Professor Andrew Grulich who is leading the Kirby Institute trial.

ACON, the AIDS Council of NSW is one of the supporters of the clinical trial. ACON President Dr. Justin Koonin said the PrEP is recognized as a "potential game changer" in preventing HIV transmissions in NSW.

"When we combine this with our increasing rates of HIV testing among gay men and stronger uptake of treatment among people living with HIV, we may be able to deliver the biggest reduction in HIV transmission rates in NSW for more than two decades," added Koonin.

The trial recruitment started in March this year. The goal is to recruit 3,700 participants who carry high risks of acquiring HIV. A huge chunk of the participant pool will be homosexual or bisexual men.

The Institute is still looking for participants for the EPIC-NSW (Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW) trial. Interested people are advised to contact 1800 451 624 for more information or visit the existing EPIC-NSW enrollment sites below:

  • Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Sydney
  • East Sydney Doctors, Darlinghurst
  • Holdsworth House, Sydney
  • Lismore Sexual Health Service, Lismore
  • Taylor Square Private Clinic, Darlinghurst
  • RPA Sexual Health, Camperdown
  • Clinic 16, St. Leonards
  • Kirketon Road Centre, Kings Cross
  • Short Street Centre, Kogarah

Photo: David Amsler | Flickr

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