Kirby Institute researchers receive over $2 million in latest round of NHMRC funding

News | Published on 08 Oct 2020

Kirby Institute’s Professor Andrew Lloyd and Associate Professor Garrett Prestage have each received NHMRC Partnership grants of over $1 million, announced yesterday by the Federal Government.

The grants will support the delivery of highly collaborative, multi-sector projects that will support the delivery of treatments and programs to alleviate infectious diseases among marginalised populations.

Professor Andrew Lloyd received over $1.15 million for a project that is aimed at improving the public health literacy of those living and working in the prison sector to enhance hepatitis C treatment uptake amongst prisoners.

“The prison sector is very important for the Australian hepatitis C elimination effort as almost one third of all antiviral treatments now occur in this setting. This project will evaluate a new hepatitis C education and awareness-raising program, tailored to the unique circumstances of the prisons,” said Professor Lloyd.

“Highly effective antiviral treatments for chronic hepatitis C are now available. Every state and territory prison system has well-developed hepatitis treatment services in place, but more needs to be done to increase the number of people in custody being tested and treated.”

The project will bring together prisoner health service and correctional organisations from across Australia, along with consumer support organisations, and key pharmaceutical companies to provide a new education program that is ‘prison-focused’ and targets all of the key groups in the sector – prisoners, as well as correctional officers and health care staff. The project aims to raise awareness, change negative attitudes, and support health promoting behaviours amongst prisoners to enhance treatment uptake.

Professor Andrew Lloyd and Associate Professor Garrett PrestageProfessor Andrew Lloyd and Associate Professor Garrett Prestage

Over $1 million was awarded to Associate Professor Garrett Prestage, who is chief investigator on a project to treat and support gay and bisexual men who experience difficulties due to their use of methamphetamine. 

“Methamphetamine dependence is a key public health priority for Australia. Gay and bisexual men have very high rates of drug use and are at high risk of methamphetamine dependence, which needs appropriate referral to tailored counselling, clinical care, and peer support,” Associate Professor Prestage said.

The project brings together longstanding collaborators and partners Kirby Institute, ACON, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, NDARC, NADA and Positive Life NSW, maximising the wide-ranging, cross-sector expertise in developing and delivering programs and services that meet the health needs of this often hard-to-reach group.

“Through the diverse expertise that close partnerships between community, the health sector and the research sector brings, this project will help improve access to care and support and reducing methamphetamine dependence and its harmful outcomes,” said Associate Professor Prestage.