A new study attempts to address concerns about the side-effects of HIV-preventing PrEP drugs – finding the drugs are as safe as Aspirin.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can drastically reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV if taken daily.

The drug has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and is routinely available to at-risk men in the US – though it is yet to become available in the UK despite a successful trial.

A number of HIV groups remain concerned about the effectiveness of the drugs and their long-term risks – but a new study attempts to allay those fears.

The study, by Noah Kojima and Jeffrey D. Klausner of the School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, was published in the Open Forum Infectious Diseases journal.

The researchers compared five major studies on the impact of PrEP to two of those Aspirin safety, scoring them based on the likelihood of reported side-effects.

They wrote: “The safety and effectiveness studies of [the drug] for HIV infection pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men and women showed that daily use reduced the risk of HIV acquisition, but there still may concerns about safety.

“We conclude that FTC-TDF (Truvada) for PrEP for HIV infection favorably compares to aspirin in terms of user safety. While long-term studies are needed, providers should feel reassured about the safety of short- and medium-term PrEP for HIV infection with FTC-TDF.

“Given the observed safety and efficacy of FTC-TDF for PrEP for HIV infection and intent of the majority of high-risk MSM to use PrEP, physicians should now actively look for patients who may benefit from it.

“A ‘duty to prevent’ suggests that physicians should identify patients in their practice with behaviours that might put them at risk for HIV infection and offer PrEP routinely.”

Former UK health minister Norman Lamb recently called for the drugs to be available on the NHS.

(H/t Towleroad)