EPIC trial enrols 1000th participant as access to PrEP for HIV prevention expands

(SYDNEY, 20 May 2016) NSW is on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission by 2020 as an expanded trial, led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia, enrols its one thousandth participant in record time.

Professor David Cooper AO, Director of the Kirby Institute, said the strategy behind the EPIC-NSW (Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW) trial is the rapid and targeted rollout of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the community. PrEP is prescribed to HIV negative participants at high risk of HIV infection. The daily dose of medication is called Truvada and is currently used as a component of standard HIV treatment in Australia.

“PrEP trials are being rolled out across the country, but NSW has led the way in the scale, speed and targeted approach of the EPIC-NSW study,” said Professor Cooper.

“In close collaboration with our key partners at ACON, Positive Life NSW and NSW Health, we have successfully implemented the first phase of the study and are very pleased to have enrolled 1000 participants in just over three months,” Professor Cooper said.

The NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, today joined key study partners to announce the major trial milestone had been reached, at an ACON STI testing site on Oxford Street, Sydney.

Professor Cooper commended Minister Skinner on committing crucial resources to the implementation study and bringing together key partners dedicated to HIV prevention in NSW.

“A rollout of this scale is a remarkable achievement and we are well on the way to reducing new HIV infections in NSW to half the current rate within the next two years. A decline of this magnitude and speed would be unprecedented globally,” Professor Cooper said.

While a growing number of international clinical trials have established PrEP to be highly effective at preventing HIV infection among high-risk people, EPIC-NSW is the first study globally to introduce PrEP on a large scale with the aim of substantially decreasing HIV infections in the population.

Professor Andrew Grulich is leading the trial at the Kirby Institute. He said that PrEP has been a game-changer in HIV prevention.

“PrEP offers people at high risk of acquiring HIV with a biomedical strategy to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection,” said Professor Grulich.

“Alongside other prevention strategies, such as condom use and regular STI testing, PrEP moves us significantly closer to the goal of virtual elimination of HIV transmission in NSW.”

“We are still enrolling participants for EPIC-NSW. If you think you are at high risk of HIV, and you are interested in participating, contact 1800 451 624 for more information about the trial,” said Professor Grulich.

Truvada for PrEP was recently approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

 

Media contact: Dan Wheelahan - UNSW Media Office - d.wheelahan@unsw.edu.au0435 930 465

 

Stakeholder quotes

Positive Life Acting-CEO Lance Feeney - “Positive Life is excited about the improved access to PrEP which will empower people at high risk of HIV infection to stay negative. This increased availability of PrEP to the community should begin to release us from anxiety and fear of transmitting or acquiring HIV and advance the goal of the virtual elimination of HIV transmission by 2020.”

ACON President Dr Justin Koonin – “ACON is thrilled to be involved in the historic project, and congratulatesMinister Skinner on leading Australia’s contemporary response to HIV. PrEP is widely acknowledged as a potential game changer in terms of preventing HIV transmission in NSW. NSW is leading the way nationally, with 3700 EPIC participants to be recruited into the trial.  That means that 3,700 people most at risk of acquiring HIV will be protected.  The NSW Government is really taking our approach to HIV prevention to the next level.”

 

About the Kirby Institute

The Kirby Institute at UNSW is one of Australia’s premier infectious diseases research institutes. Based in Sydney, the Kirby Institute is funded by the Australian Government to conduct research into the HIV epidemic, viral hepatitis, blood-borne viruses, and sexually transmissible infections in Australia. The Kirby Institute is a centre of UNSW Medicine.(SYDNEY, 20 May 2016) NSW is on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission by 2020 as an expanded trial, led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia, enrols its one thousandth participant in record time.

 

Date published: 
Friday, 20 May 2016

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