Fremantle Hospital: vital HIV medication in statewide trial

Fremantle Hospital: vital HIV medication in statewide trial
Fremantle Hospital: vital HIV medication in statewide trial

VITAL medication that reduces the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is being used in a statewide trial to prevent people contracting the conditions.

Conducted by sexual health physician Dr Lewis Marshall, the study involves 120 participants who take a combination of the medications Tenofovir and Emtricitabine.

Based at Fremantle Hospital’s South Terrace Clinic, Dr Marshall said he knew the medication worked and put a call out to men who have sex with other men to get involved in the trial by taking the medication.

“We ask suitable participants to take the medication once daily and then present for follow up every three months,” he said.

“This has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by more than 90 per cent.”

Dr Marshall said early indicators showed the trial had been successful with a drop in HIV presentations.

“From what we can see so far, HIV rates in WA have dropped from 88 new cases in 2016 to 68 in 2017,” he said.

“There is still no cure for HIV but there is very effective treatment to manage the condition and this is really having an effect on the community.”

The study is also looking at the impact of this medication on the rates of gonorrhoea, syphilis and Chlamydia.

“By reducing the risk of contracting HIV, we need to determine the effect of increased sexually transmitted infections and anecdotally we are seeing a surge,” he said.

“In having participants monitored every three months, we hope to catch any infections early, to treat them and reduce the spread of infection amongst the community.”

Dr Marshall and his team hope to have 150 participants in the study by September.

When the trial ends in April 2019, the drug will be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and patients will be encouraged to still attend sexual health clinics for three monthly monitoring.