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Zero gay men contract HIV in two and a half year PrEP study

Joe Williams September 8, 2015
Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs are a HIV prevention method

Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs are a HIV prevention method (Getty)

A study has found that out of 600 people using HIV preventing drugs for over two years, not one contracted HIV.

Researchers at the Kaiser Pemanente Medical Centre in San Francisco have given over 600 people Truvada to use daily across a two and a half year period – with not one person contracting HIV.

The average age of the study participants was 37; 99% were gay or bisexual men and the average length of individual usage was 7.2 months.

Lead researcher Jonathan Volk said these results represent a unique opportunity to truly understand the usage of Truvada and PrEP in a real-world setting.

“It suggests the treatment may prevent new HIV infections even in a high-risk setting,” he said.

Volk was referring to the fact that many of the men in the study claiming to have highly active sex lives – often sleeping with multiple partners in a short space of time.

“Until now, evidence supporting the efficacy of PrEP to prevent HIV infection had come from clinical trials and a demonstration project,” he added.

However, while none of the participants contracted HIV, 30% did contract an STI within the first six months of the study. This number increased to 50% after one year.

In addition, 41% admitted they used condoms less – compared to the 56% who said their use of condoms remained unchanged – suggesting that many used the treatment as a replacement for condoms.

“Without a control group, we don’t know if these STI rates were higher than what we would have seen without PrEP,” co-author Julia Marcus said.

“Ongoing screening and treatments for STIs, including hepatitis C, are an essential component of a PrEP treatment program,” she pointed out.

PrEP has divided the LGBT community since it was approved by the FDA in 2012.

In the UK, Truvada is currently still in its experimental trial period, but some campaigners are already calling for it to be made available on the NHS.

Last year, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein attracted criticism for labelling Truvada a “party drug”, claiming it would wrongly be seen as an alternative to condoms.

The AHF – which has broken away from other groups to condemn PrEP – also launched an ad campaign targeting targeting the treatment.

More: AHF, HIV, hiv prevention work, PrEP, Truvada, US

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