December 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Drug resistance to PrEP disappears quickly: study
Truvada, Gilead, gay news, Washington Blade, drug resistance

(Photo courtesy of Gilead)

LONDON — Drug resistance acquired in rare cases of HIV infection during treatment with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) rapidly disappears once medication is discontinued, investigators report in the journal AIDS. Use of ultra-sensitive tests performed six months after seroconversion and discontinuation of PrEP failed to find any resistant virus, AIDSmap reports.

“Multiple studies have now shown that the risk of developing resistance from PrEP is very low, but is an important concern for those who initiate PrEP during unrecognized acute infection,” researchers wrote. “Our data show that resistance selected in these cases decays rapidly to levels below detection of even highly sensitive assays.”

PrEP with emtricitabine/tenofovir (Truvada) or tenofovir (Viread) alone is highly effective at preventing infection with HIV. However, resistance to these antiretroviral drugs has been detected in individuals who initiated PrEP during unrecognized acute HIV infection, and, very rarely, in patients infected with HIV while taking PrEP, AIDSmap reports.

Such resistance could limit future HIV treatment options. It is therefore important to determine if it persists once treatment is withdrawn. To answer this question, investigators from the Partners PrEP study designed a longitudinal study involving nine patients who had drug-resistant HIV of various mutations detected during HIV seroconversion.

By testing archived blood samples taken of the virus six, 12 and 24 months after they stopped taking PrEP, researchers found that the resistance appeared to be related to the PrEP usage as their levels of resistant virus fell to undetectable levels in all nine patients and stayed at those levels six, 12 and 24 months after they stopped taking PrEP, AIDSmap reports.

9 Comments
  • This is a completely inaccurate headline. The study covered people who had started PrEP *after* being infected with HIV. PrEP didn’t fail at all… it was simply started too late.

  • Terrible headline that has no relation to the article. The people in the study were -already- infected with HIV when they started PrEP. Doctors failed to identify the infection, but they discounted PrEP once they did.

    For the details on this, the headline writer needs to read the text of the article they were seeking to summarize.

  • This headline is profoundly wrong. The study was of people who were ALREADY HIV-positive when they started on PrEP. It is has nothing to do with PrEP failure and involved NO patients who acquired HIV due to a PrEP failure. Please correct the headline.

  • This is like saying that birth control pills failed in women who were already pregnant. Please change this INCREDIBLY misleading and inaccurate headline. PrEP is an important tool for those wishing to prevent HIV. Misleading articles like this stigmatizing this drug with misinformation isn’t helpful to anyone.

  • The revised headline is only slightly less misleading than the original. There is NO SUCH THING as “drug resistance to PrEP.” Drug resistance develops only in people who are HIV-positive. PrEP is meant only for people who are HIV-negative. Is it possible your headline writer could consult with someone who understands what the article, and the study it describes, actually report?

  • Your lede is also inaccurate. It should read “Drug resistance that developed in people who were prescribed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) despite already being HIV-positive, rapidly disappeared once the medication was discontinued, investigators report in the journal AIDS.”

  • I second the six other comments below. For a media outlet which supposedly claims to be America’s leading gay new source, this disingenuous clickbait headline is a terrible disservice to the community.

  • The reference to rare “patients infected with HIV while taking PrEP” lacks some important context: those cases refer to individuals who weren’t adhering to the prescribed dosage — either skipping too many days or quitting entirely. No one in any PrEP study whose blood levels prove they took the medication as prescribed has ever been infected with HIV. PrEP is not some scary, unproven, flawed experiment. If you take it, it works.

  • Just ridiculous. Try this: read the article and where it says “PrEP”, read out “Pre Exposure Prevention”. And for “unrecognised acute infection” read “people already living with HIV”. It becomes “Pre-exposure medication does not work for those already living with HIV”. And “taking Pre-exposure medication regimes doesn’t work for those already living with HIV”.

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