In what is being seen as a revolutionary development in the HIV prevention context, the US Centers for Disease Control endorses PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in its updated clinical guidelines (May 2014), saying that it could help up to half a million Americans. PrEP refers to taking a daily Truvada pill (containing tenofovir and emtricitabine) in order to prevent contracting HIV. In the words of the CDC, “When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.”
“This is a very welcome development. Modern antiretroviral drugs have the potential to dramatically decrease global HIV infection rates, and there is now abundant evidence of the effectiveness of PrEP,” explains our co-founder Mark Chataway who has worked for decades in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
The 2010 iPrEx study found that gay men who took Truvada seven days a week reduced their chances of infection by 99 percent. The 2011 HPTN 052 trial, involving heterosexual couples with only one infected partner, showed a 96 percent dip in likelihood of infection when participants took their doses regularly.
The latest evidence came in March – preliminary results from the PARTNER study, which followed 767 couples (heterosexual and gay) with differing HIV statuses in the two-year interim analysis, showed no transmissions within couples where the HIV-positive partner had an undetectable viral load.
The CDC guidelines encourage doctors to consider PrEP for high-risk individuals (approximately 50,000 people in the US fall in this category) and recommend counselling about adherence and risk reduction as well as regular monitoring of HIV infection status, side effects, adherence, and risk behaviours.
Our firm is a partner in Mapping Pathways, a project focused on developing strategies for the use of antiretrovirals as HIV prevention. Read more about Mapping Pathways here.