Study: PrEP us protects against HIV

Published: July 24, 2014

A new study has found that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) protects against HIV in men who have sex with men and transgender women in the real world.

"A key finding of this study is that interest and uptake of PrEP is high," Robert Grant, MD, from the University of California at San Francisco, said at a news conference here at the 20th International AIDS Conference. "We found that 76% of these men and transwomen wanted and started PrEP when given the opportunity to do so."

"We also discovered that men who have sex with men and transwomen who were at high risk for acquiring HIV were more likely to take up PrEP and were more likely to adhere to it," Dr. Grant added.

The study results were presented at the meeting and also published online in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The open-label extension trial lasted for 72 days and it involved 1603 participants not infected with HIV. The average age of the participants was 28 years. Around 76% of the participants opted to start treatment.

The patients who preferred not to take medication about 50% expressed concern about adverse effects. Around 25% said that they were not interested in taking a pill every day.

After 72 weeks, investigators found that the incidence of HIV was directly related to weekly pill intake. In the original iPrEx study, investigators found that PrEP consisting of emtricitabine and tenofovir reduced the incidence of HIV infection by 44% over a median follow-up period of 1.2 years (N Engl J Med. 2010;363:2587-2599).

The use of PrEP was measured in dried blood spots, which is a sensitive biomarker of long-term treatment. None of the participants who took 4 or more tablets a week got HIV infected.

"We recommend daily dosing of PrEP because we think that daily use allows for habit formation," Dr. Grant explained. Daily dosing also creates the highest drug levels, which provides somewhat of a cushion in case people miss a few doses, he added.

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