Recruitment to the study began in April, and so far 100 men aged between 19 and 73 years have commenced medication. The Clinic 16 trial can accommodate at least 180 men.
They are part of a state-wide study known as EPIC (Expanded PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] Implementation in Communities) involving 3700 at-risk men which will see them supplied with the drug for two years.
The study is led by one of Australia's premier infectious diseases research institutes - the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW - and is mostly directed at gay or bisexual men at risk of contracting HIV.
In May, the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the use of Truvada, an antiretroviral therapy currently used to treat HIV, to be prescribed in Australia as a PrEP for people who are HIV negative but at high risk of contracting the virus.
However, it has not been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it prohibitively expensive for most people, according to Clinic 16 Clinical Director Dr Rosalind Foster.
"The development of a drug which can not only be used to treat HIV, but also to prevent HIV infection in the first place, represents a huge step forward in the fight to eliminate transmission of HIV," Dr Foster said.
"We know this drug works, so our study is not looking at its effectiveness as such – rather, it's looking at HIV transmission reduction at a population level.
"Many at-risk men who are linked in to the gay community would have heard about the EPIC trial and would have already had the opportunity to assess whether it could be an option for them.
"However, there may be men on the north shore or in the northern beaches who haven't yet heard about this trial, even though they could be candidates."
Dr Foster said men involved in the trial would need to visit Clinic 16 for an initial assessment and HIV test to ensure they are negative. Follow-up visits would occur one month after starting medication and then every three months.
Men who might want to take part should contact Clinic 16, Northern Sydney Sexual Health, on 9462 9500 or https://www.clinic16.com.au/
View as PDF