Burnet Institute, Alfred Health and Monash University are collaborating on a ground-breaking project to test the efficacy of medications in reducing transmission of HIV.
The Victorian Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Demonstrations project will be led by Burnet Institute’s Associate Professor Edwina Wright, also affiliated with Monash University and Alfred Health.
Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon David Davis MP announced $320,000 for the project, which will test the success of the strategy in reducing the transmission of HIV in Victoria.
“PrEP is an innovative prevention strategy in which antiretroviral drugs are used in HIV negative people at risk of HIV acquisition. This could include relationships in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative. PrEP will also be offered to other men and women who are also at high risk of infection,” Mr Davis said.
A combination of PrEP with safe sex has shown in international studies to reduce infection by at least half.
Head of Burnet Institute’s HIV Research group, Dr Mark Stoové said the Institute is excited to be part of this project.
“The Victorian PrEP Demonstration Project will provide valuable insights for the future role of PrEP as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy in Australia,” Dr Stoové said.
Co-Head of Burnet’s Centre for Biomedical Research, Professor Sharon Lewin said PrEP is an exciting new addition to the multiple ways we can prevent HIV transmission and findings would be particularly useful for Australia.
“The success of PrEP is very much dependent on the local context – specifically the local epidemiology of HIV transmission and local practises of at-risk groups,” Professor Lewin said.
“This project will provide the critical information we need to develop appropriate policies around PrEP that are suitable for the Australian context.”
Victoria’s rate of new HIV diagnosis has remained stable for the past four years with around 260 cases annually.