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NSW clinical trial hoped to stop spread of HIV in Australia

A little blue tablet taken once a day could be the answer to ending HIV in Australia once and for all. Liverpool Sexual Health Services medical director Dr Christopher Carmody said it was exciting to be at the forefront of change.

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A LITTLE blue tablet taken once a day could be the answer to ending HIV in Australia once and for all.

And now Australians are able to access the drug, free of charge, instead of paying up to $300 a month to illegally buy it in America.

After almost three decades working in sexual health. Dr Christopher Carmody said he was excited.

With plans to end HIV in Australia by 2020, the Liverpool Sexual Health Services medical director is at the forefront of making that a reality.

Those at a higher risk of contracting HIV are part of a state wide trial.

Locally there are 65 people already signed up.

“It’s really exciting to be part of the change. It’s an exciting time as a clinician, nurse and doctor in this sector,” he said.

“As soon as it (clinical trial) was announced, I registered the clinic’s interest straight away.

“As a sexual health physician, I’ve seen many changes, but this one is a game changer.”

Dr Carmody said the US government approved pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) Truvada in 2012, with Australia following earlier this year.

He said many Australians had turned to purchasing the pills from America, paying between $150 and $300 a month to keep themselves safe. He said it was great the NSW Government had allowed the clinical trial, providing the drug free of charge.

It is hoped once the two year trial is complete, the drug will be on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“Several European locations have approved it since. Australia has been a leader,” he said.

An estimated 27,150 people live with HIV in Australia. Statistics from 2014 indicate that 75 per cent of new diagnoses were among gay and bisexual men.

“Across NSW, the health department strategies about ending HIV focuses on getting more people tested more often, treat HIV early and prevention with PrEP,” Dr Carmody said.

“PrEP provides control and changes the direction.

“There is a whole lot of hope as we move towards ending HIV.”

He said most people that were living with HIV were already on treatment.

“That means people stay well and can go on to lead normal and fulfilling lives.”

Looking to the future, Dr Carmody said there will be no HIV.

“People that will be living with HIV, there will either be a cure or even better treatment options available.

“HIV treatment drugs are developing the long-acting form equivalent as we speak.”

The sexual health clinic, located next door to Liverpool Hospital, gives people free access to sexual health specialist doctors, nurses and counsellors.

You don’t need a referral.

And priority is given to its target groups — people living with HIV, gay men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people under the age of 29 and those presenting with an STI symptom.

“The purpose of the sexual health clinic is to provide testing, screening, treatment, management and counselling,” he said.

It is staffed by specialist sexual health doctors and nurses and a counsellor.

This article was written by Stacy Thomas and published in the Liverpool Leader, September 29, 2016 2:12pm

Read the full article via the Liverpool Leader’s News Local here.

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The Liverpool and Campbelltown Sexual Health Service is part of SWSLHD, a member of South West Sydney Research. Visit our Clinical Trials pages to learn more about Clinical Trial research in South West Sydney.