The Health News Australia March 22 2018

  • The cost of HIV-prevention drug PrEP will be slashed, with the final hurdle now cleared for adding it to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Hailed as a “game changer” for gay men, the preventative medicine is up to 99% effective in stopping the spread of HIV, if taken daily. The drug is being trialled in several states, but advocates have been lobbying for it to be more accessible and affordable.
  • An elderly NSW woman has become the sixth Australian to die in the current rockmelon-related listeria outbreak. NSW Health said in a statement on Tuesday that the woman in her 90s had significant underlying health conditions. She passed away last week but the health department wasn’t notified until Monday. Three Victorians and three people from NSW have now died as a result of the outbreak which was first revealed in February.
  • UNSW Sydney has paid tribute to highly respected Scientia Professor David Cooper AO after his death at the age of 68. Professor David Cooper was the inaugural Director of UNSW’s Kirby Institute, a leading global research institute dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of infectious diseases. He made significant contributions to the University and broader society, with a thirty-year career dedicated to research into HIV epidemiology, treatment and prevention that has saved countless lives in Australia and globally.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 22nd of March 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-21/cost-of-hiv-prevention-drug-prep-to-be-slashed/9569048

The cost of HIV-prevention drug PrEP will be slashed, with the final hurdle now cleared for adding it to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Hailed as a “game changer” for gay men, the preventative medicine is up to ninety nine percent effective in stopping the spread of HIV, if taken daily. Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the one hundred eighty million dollars federal subsidy for the drug, “puts Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV”. In February, pre-exposure prophylaxis was recommended for listing on the PBS by a panel of experts and Mister Hunt will announce the cost of the medicine which will drop significantly from April one.

Mister Hunt added:  “PrEP is a medical innovation that will save Australian lives and the decision to list it is one of the most significant advancements in HIV transmission Australia has ever seen.” Thirty two thousand patients each year will pay a maximum of only thirty nine dollars and fifty cents per script … without subsidy, patients would pay two thousand four hundred ninety six dollars per year for this medicine. Access to PrEP will not only benefit gay and bisexual men but will also drive down rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrant communities and other population groups which have seen increased transmission rates over recent years.”

The drug is being trialled in several states, but advocates have been lobbying for it to be more accessible and affordable

https://www.thesenior.com.au/health/rockmelon-listeria-death-toll-rises-to-six/

An elderly New South Wales woman has become the sixth Australian to die in the current rockmelon-related listeria outbreak. NSW Health said in a statement on Tuesday that the woman in her nineties had significant underlying health conditions.  She passed away last week but the health department wasn’t notified until Monday.

Three Victorians and three people from NSW have now died as a result of the outbreak which was first revealed in February. Nineteen people have been infected during the outbreak – linked to a single NSW farm – including the six who subsequently died.

NSW Health’s communicable diseases director Doctor Vicky Sheppeard says it’s possible more listeria cases surface given those infected may not show symptoms for up to seventy days. However there’s no risk of contracting the disease from rockmelons currently on sale, she said in a statement.
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Rombola Family Farms at Nericon near Griffith in the NSW Riverina voluntarily halted production of potentially contaminated melon types on February twenty three after authorities identified it as the source of the infection.

All affected produce has been withdrawn from sale and distribution. The bacterial infection is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, their unborn babies and elderly people. It can also cause death in people with weak immune systems.

https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/vale-david-cooper-australias-pioneer-hiv-research

University of New South Wales Sydney has paid tribute to highly respected Scientia Professor David Cooper (Order of Australia) after his death at the age of sixty eight. Professor David Cooper was the inaugural Director of UNSW’s Kirby Institute, a leading global research institute dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of infectious diseases. He made significant contributions to the University and broader society, with a thirty-year career dedicated to research into HIV epidemiology, treatment and prevention that has saved countless lives in Australia and globally.

Internationally, Professor Cooper is recognised as a leading HIV clinician and clinical investigator who authored more than eight hundred published scientific papers. He was among the first responders when the HIV epidemic reached Australia in the early nineteen eighties and was pivotal in the ongoing fight against HIV.
….
In two thousand three, Professor Cooper was made Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for “service to medicine as a clinician, researcher and leading contributor in the field of HIV/AIDS research and to the development of new treatment approaches”.

His quest to remove the stigma surrounding AIDS patients and to share his knowledge on HIV and other infectious diseases to disadvantaged communities symbolise his devotion to the greater good. Professor Cooper was working right up to the time of his illness, running large-scale international clinical trials to improve HIV treatment, building research capacity in Indonesia and Myanmar, and leading the trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis to eliminate HIV transmission in NSW.

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