Nurse Practitioner earns right to prescribe HIV medicines

A Nurse Practitioner at the Mount Isa Sexual Health clinic is the first in Australia to be certified for treating HIV under new government legislation.

Through the Highly Specialised Drugs program, Dale Thompson (pictured) is now certified to prescribe medicines for HIV along with medicines for hepatitis B, hepatitis C.

Mr Thompson said this meant that patients who needed these medications no longer had to wait up to two weeks for a specialist to come to Mount Isa, in outback Queensland.

"The change in legislation is a wonderful thing, these are highly specialised drugs which could only be prescribed by a specialised clinician," Mr Thompson said.

 "However, now if a patient who is diagnosed and on treatment comes in and tells me their script is nearly up, they won't have to wait a fortnight for a specialist to come to town. I can assess them and write up a script straight away, and it reduces the fragmentation of care."

Mr Thompson was proactive in signing up for the training and was the first to be certified in Australia.

"Per head of population Mount Isa does have high rates of HIV, I have about 23 people who I treat here," he said.

"We have people from right across North West Hospital and Health Service catchment, in remote areas, that are HIV positive and now they are all really well engaged in care, which is important for their long-term health.

"There is no cure for HIV, but there is very good, straight forward treatment, which includes taking a tablet every day, preventing the virus from being spread to other people."

Mr Thompson said he worked discretely with the patients to help reduce the stigma associated with HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

"You could live in a very remote community in the North West and still have excellent treatment," he said.

"We have people that live in remote NWHHS communities, and we can assess them through telehealth. Then the nurses in those communities can do the blood tests and tests needed for those patients, and I can provide the scripts. The pharmacy in Mount Isa can discretely send out the medication, there is only a name on an enclosed bag, and then the patient only needs to collect it.

"The stigma is still huge around HIV, and I wish it wasn't, because it is just another infection that is easily treatable nowadays."

Mr Thompson said Mount Isa Sexual Health provided discretion and treatments for all sexual diseases or infections.

"We can check for any sexually transmitted diseases; people can walk into the clinic and be tested for gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis V, HIV and bacterial infections," he said.

"A lot of sexually transmitted infections or diseases have little to no symptoms for years so that it can infect a lot of people. So, we encourage anyone to come in and get tested, and help keep our community safe."

Source: North West Star

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