What is EPIC-NSW?

EPIC-NSW stands for ‘Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW’.

It is a study run by the Kirby Institute, in collaboration with a number of partners, which aims to assess the impact of the rapid expansion in access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) amongst those at high risk of acquiring HIV.

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and it’s an antiretroviral treatment taken by HIV negative people to prevent HIV infection and is extremely effective at preventing HIV transmission.

The trial will enrol 3,700 people at high risk of acquiring HIV – the vast majority of whom will be gay and bisexual men. EPIC-NSW is a criteria based access program – which means eligibility for the study will be determined on the basis of HIV risk criteria. The aim is to rapidly enrol eligible people and follow participants for two years on while they take PrEP.

Partners involved in the study include the Kirby Institute, UNSW (leading the study) the NSW Health, ACON, Positive Life NSW, the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (Australia’s HIV professional organization for clinicians) a number of General Practitioners who specialise in HIV, private practices and NSW publicly funded sexual health clinics.

When does it start?

Enrolment into EPIC-NSW commenced in March 2016. The number of sites recruiting into the study will increase throughout March and April, across NSW. To view a list of the current enrolment sites for EPIC–NSW, visit epic-nswstudy.org.au/join-the-study

Why are the places limited and what are the criteria based on?

As of May 2016, Truvada is licensed for PrEP in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). While this is a key development for PrEP access in Australia, PrEP is not yet available at a subsidised price through Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). An application is underway for a PBS listing.

While PrEP will not be available to all who may want it through EPIC-NSW, it is believed that by targeting PrEP to those most at risk of HIV, the greatest reduction in HIV transmission can be achieved.

The number of places in the trial is based on established HIV risk criteria and the NSW PrEP guidelines and are described below:

Who is eligible for the EPIC-NSW Study?

The guidance in NSW for clinicians to prescribe daily PrEP is related to being at high risk of acquiring HIV. Therefore PrEP is recommended if the individual acknowledges: being likely to have multiple events of condomless anal intercourse, with or without sharing intravenous drug use (IDU), in the next 3 months (indicating sustained risk)

And having any of the following:

  • Regular sexual partner of an HIV-infected man with whom condoms were not consistently used in the last 3 months (HIV positive partner is not on treatment and/or has detectable viral load);
  • At least one episode of receptive condomless anal intercourse with any casual HIV-infected male partner or a male partner of unknown HIV status in the last 3 months;
  • Rectal gonorrhoea, rectal chlamydia or infectious syphilis diagnosis during the last 3 months or at screening;
  • Methamphetamine use in the last 3 months

If people think that they would benefit from PrEP, yet may not be eligible for EPIC-NSW, then they are encouraged to talk to a General Practitioner who specialises in HIV, or a publicly funded sexual health clinic, regarding their suitability and access options.

How can I find out more about EPIC–NSW?

We will be promoting information about EPIC–NSW on ACON’s websites, our Ending HIV Facebook page and via our Ending HIV news desk. Sign up by clicking the button on the top left corner.

In NSW you can now contact the PrEP Info Service, which provides further information for community members and health care professionals about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Call the service on 1800 451 624, open Monday to Friday 9am till 5:30pm.

For more information visit the EPIC-NSW Study website at epic-nswstudy.org.au.

EPIC-NSW information for participants
Download the EPIC-NSW Information booklet for participants here

Can I register my interest in participating in the trial?

You can register your name and email address with us below in order to be kept up to date about the trial.

Because EPIC–NSW is a criteria based trial, registering your interest does not necessarily guarantee you a place in the trial. We will use your contact information to send you information about how you can be assessed for the trial once more detail is available.

What if I want to get PrEP now?

If you want to access PrEP now, you can find out how to go about that by using the information contained in the PrEP Access Options resource on our website – here or alternatively you could contact the NSW Sexual Health Information Line on 1800 451 624.

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One of the main ways ACON is committing to ending HIV by 2020 is through sustained advocacy efforts on behalf of our community as well as feeding information about the effectiveness of the ENDING HIV initiative back to the community… Read more.

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