NEW YORK — Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5 percent of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, and could help to prevent up to one in four cases of HIV, according to new research published in the Lancet Infections Diseases journal, MedicalXpress reports.
Researchers predict that providing PrEP could become cost effective within 40 years of introduction, but timeframes may be shorter if the cost of the drugs reduces as patents expire. Over 80 years, the study estimates savings of up to $1.3 billion as a result of fewer men needing lifelong HIV treatment.
Numbers of new HIV diagnoses in men who have sex with men in the U.K. have been at high levels for several years, with about 3,000 new cases per year from 2012 to 2015, and there is a need for new prevention approaches, MedicalXpress reports.
NHS England announced it would provide PrEP to 10,000 patients through an implementation study in selected clinics from September. The study is the first study to assess the cost-effectiveness of a national roll-out of PrEP, MedicalXpress reports.
“There is no doubt about the effectiveness of PrEP. In addition to delivering a substantial health benefit, our work suggests that introduction of PrEP will ultimately lead to a saving in costs, as a result of decreased numbers of men in need of lifelong HIV treatment,” says author Valentina Cambiano of the University College London Institute for Global Health, according to MedicalXpress.