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PrEP credited for drop of HIV among men in Australia

The new study has found the lowest number of transmissions since 1985

2018-10-18

Words: Steve Brown

PrEP has been credited for the rapid drop of HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men.

The latest figures found the lowest number of transmissions since 1985 in Australia’s New South Wales and researchers have said the HIV-prevention drug is an effective daily medication to prevent the virus.

The EPIC-NSW trial started in March two years ago and was the first study to measure the impact of PrEP on reducing HIV.

Professor Andrew Grulich, from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said: “The speed of the decline we’ve seen in new HIV infections in gay and bisexual men is a world first.

“In the year following the trial, state-wide new HIV infections in this population decreased by one third, from 149 infections in the 12 months prior, to 102 in the 12 months after.

“These numbers are the lowest on record since HIV surveillance began in 1985.

“Our research tells us that these reductions are a result of PrEP, implemented on a background of high and increasing HIV testing and treatment rates.

“These communities had the highest uptake of PrEP and in these populations, new HIV infections have halved since the trial began.

“However, we did not see the same reductions across the board. Reductions were lower in non-English speaking immigrants with a smaller 21 per cent decline among those born in Asia.

“We need to improve education and promote access to PrEP. The results from EPIC-NSW provide an important evidence-base to inform our response to HIV globally.

“We now know that PrEP implemented quickly, at a large scale, and targeted to high-risk populations can help turn the HIV epidemic around.”