A new Kirby Institute research report published in Lancet on October 18, calls for more promotion of HIV prevention medication PrEP in culturally diverse communities. Launched in March 2016, the EPIC-NSW research study funded by NSW Health, reports that despite unprecedented success in reducing new HIV infections, the level of reduction remains less so in people from diverse communities.

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a way of protecting yourself from getting HIV by taking a tablet once a day every day.

"The speed of the decline we’ve seen in new HIV infections in gay and bisexual men is a world first," according to Professor Andrew Grulich from the Kirby Institute who led the study.

"These numbers are the lowest on record since HIV surveillance began in 1985. Our research tells us these reductions are a result of PrEP, implemented on a background of high and increasing HIV testing and treatment rates."

"However, we did not see the same reductions across the board.

"Reductions were lower in non-English speaking immigrants with a smaller 21% decline among those born in Asia.

"We need to improve education and promote access to PrEP, particularly amongst culturally and linguistically diverse men who have sex with men, and those outside the gay neighbourhoods of Sydney."
NSW was the first state in Australia to trial PrEP on a large scale.The EPIC-NSW trial enrolled 9,714 HIV negative people at high risk of HIV and provided them with PrEP.

The study ceased enrolling on the 30 April 2018, following PrEP being made available in Australia through the subsidised Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

"Now that PrEP has been listed on the PBS, and is available across Australia, we need to focus our attention on ensuring equitable access for all people at risk of HIV," said Professor Grulich.
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