HIV advocacy groups, activists and researchers in Victoria have signed an accord regarding the HIV prevention pill (known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP) in an effort to work together on issues such as accessibility, scientific information and combating stigma.
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC), PrEPaccessNOW, PrEP’d for Change, Time4PrEP, Living Positive Victoria and researchers from the VicPrEP clinical trial all signed the accord, which outlines a set of shared principles around the adoption of PrEP as an important tool in preventing HIV.
The principles include the need for information on PrEP to have a sound scientific basis informed by medical and social research; educating the community around issues such as access and adherence; the need to challenge misconceptions and stigma associated with PrEP, and to frame sexual health in a way that is sex positive, inclusive and without prejudice; and supporting efforts to have PrEP approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“The accord is an opportunity to ensure that VAC and others who are working to make PrEP available are all on the same page,” VAC CEO Simon Ruth said.
“Even if we’re taking different paths, we’ll support each others’ work—we don’t want to inadvertently impede the progress we’re making. We all have the same goal: making PrEP available for those who need it.”
The accord, which was signed at the second birthday celebrations of VAC’s rapid-HIV testing clinic PRONTO! last night, follows an announcement by the Victorian government on World AIDS Day last week to develop new guidelines providing information and clinical guidance to doctors to inform discussions with patients requesting PrEP.
In New South Wales, state health minister Jillian Skinner also announced a landmark clinical trial of PrEP, led by researchers from the Kirby Institute at UNSW, designed to reduce HIV infections to half the present rate within two years. The "Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities" trial (EPIC) will see 3700 high-risk, mostly gay and bisexual men enrolled through the state-wide network of public sexual health clinics and selected GP practices.