Having just celebrated its second anniversary, the community-based, peer-led HIV point-of-care testing service, PRONTO! is set take a significant step forward with the integration of screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
A speaker at the birthday celebrations, Head of Burnet Institute’s HIV/STI Research Group, Associate Professor Mark Stoové, said PRONTO! is entitled to be proud of its achievements.
“PRONTO! is now an ongoing and recognisable brand in and of itself, and there’s a high level of knowledge about it within the community,” Associate Professor Stoové told guests at the PRONTO! premises in Fitzroy.
“In a very short time PRONTO! has developed into a community space with acknowledgement that it’s about peers and gay men providing support and sexual health services for other gay men.”
But Associate Professor Stoové said there were high expectations for new initiatives set to consolidate PRONTO!’s role in the HIV prevention and care landscape.
These include the implementation of Medicare-rebatable STI testing from late January 2016 to be managed onsite by a general practitioner.
“The lack of STI testing was identified very early as a key barrier to frequent representation at PRONTO!,” Associate Professor Stoové said.
“People were getting their HIV tests there, but having to go elsewhere for their STI tests, but now they’ve got the model and the funding structure in place, it’s looking good.”
Associate Professor Stoové said there is plenty of potential for PRONTO! to expand into other services as well.
“There may been opportunities to introduce clinical transgender services, and the way PrEP is going, PRONTO! would be the ideal site to run a PrEP clinic as well,” he said.
“While HIV testing is still a central part, there’s an opportunity for PRONTO! to become a much more holistic HIV prevention and sexual health service.”
PRONTO! is a collaboration between Burnet and the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre.