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Peer review brings HIV prevention treatment one step closer to the NHS

Joe Williams September 10, 2015
Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs are a HIV prevention method

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

The review may mean PrEP treatment could soon be an NHS reality.

Charities and HIV awareness group have said the publication of a new study may signal a change in the UK medical’s services approach to the treatment of HIV.

The Terrence Higgins Trust today welcomed the peer reviewed publication of the PROUD study – conducted in England – that proves PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis effectively) prevents the contraction of HIV.

Publication of the data in a peer review journal means the ground breaking daily pill – that effectively protects people most at risk from HIV transmission – could soon be provided on the NHS.

In the UK, Truvada is currently still in its experimental trial period, but campaigners – including The Terrence Higgins Trust – have previously called for it to be made available.

Dr Michael Brady – Medical Director at the HIV-prevention trust – said: “The efficiency of this treatment as a HIV prevention tool is clear.

“Today’s Lancet publication is an essential step towards ensuring access to PrEP for those who need it.”

He also discussed the trust’s plan to campaign for the treatment to become available on the National Health Service.

“We are campaigning for PrEP to be available on the NHS.

“For this to happen the treatment needs to be approved by NHS England and the publication of the impressive PROUD results in a peer review journal will support this process.

“Like HIV treatment, the history of HIV prevention has evolved over time. A ‘combination approach’ to HIV prevention is possible, and we need access to PrEP now.”

Approximately 2,600 new HIV transmissions are recorded each year in gay men – with little change to the figure over the last decade.

Condoms are seen as effective – however consistent condom use is not always a reality.

The PROUD study results claim that PrEP was highly effective at preventing HIV transmission among sexually active gay men in a “real life” setting.

A similar study recently 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.

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.

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: HIV-prevention, NHS, PrEP, Terrence Higgin Trust, Truvada

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