PrEP trials present promise

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01 Dec 2014

In what is being described as “the most significant breakthrough in the battle against HIV in a generation”, PrEP could soon become widely available in the UK through the NHS.

Interim analysis from a UK study has shown the preexposure prophylaxis pill, Truvada — a dual combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine — to be highly protective against HIV for gay men at risk of infection.

Dr Sheena McCormack, who is heading the study at the Medical Research Council in London, said: “The exciting opportunity this offers is to make the biggest dent in the epidemic of all time.” Yusef Azad, of the UK’s National AIDS Trust, said: “These encouraging results provide powerful evidence that PrEP should be accessible to all who need it as soon as possible.”

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, echoed the statements and added: “We will now be looking to the NHS to act swiftly to ensure those most at risk of HIV in the UK can access PrEP.”

Following the encouraging results — which are consistent with most other PrEP trials — the UK study will be fast-tracked and participants who have not yet started PreP will now be allowed to do so ahead of schedule.

Meanwhile in France, results from the IPERGAY trial — which is establishing the efficacy of taking Truvada before and after sex, rather than daily — have shown a “very significant” reduction in the risk of HIV infection in the group of participants using Truvada as PrEP compared to the placebo group. The results were so convincing that it has been recommended that all trial participants now be offered PrEP.

Describing the findings as major, study director Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said: “The results should change international recommendations towards HIV prevention.”

Final results of both trials are expected early 2015.