NEW YORK — A study published last week offers more evidence that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective prevention strategy for keeping sexually active gay men HIV-negative.
Previous studies have shown that Truvada can reduce the risk of HIV infection but it was unclear if the benefits would be offset by an increase in risky behavior. But as British researchers report in the Sept. 9 edition of the Lancet, Truvada is highly effective, U.S. News & World Report and several other outlets report.
A team of researchers led by Sheena McCormack, of the Medical Research Council clinical trials unit at University College London, sought to investigate this issue.
The randomized trial, which was conducted at 13 sexual health clinics in England, involved HIV-negative gay men who had had anal sex at least once without a condom within 90 days.
The researchers randomly assigned 275 of the men to receive Truvada right away. Another 269 men received the treatment after a delay of one year. The researchers conducted a follow-up with the men every three months. The participants and the researchers were aware of their assigned treatment group, U.S. News & World Report reports.
Based on early findings suggesting that PrEP is highly effective, the trial steering committee recommended in October 2014 that all participants in the delayed-treatment group be offered the preventive treatment.
Among the men who received treatment right away, three HIV infections occurred, compared to 20 in the delayed-treatment group, the study found. The researchers calculated those in the immediate-treatment group had an 86 percent relative reduction in their risk for infection with the virus compared to the group that received delayed treatment, U.S. News & World Report reports.
Meanwhile, the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia, was similar in both treatment groups.
“This finding is highly encouraging for PrEP implementation, although quantifying the likely demand in the U.K. remains challenging.The impressive reduction in HIV incidence in people taking PrEP, without a measurable increase in other sexually transmitted infections, is reassuring for clinical, community and public health stakeholders,” McCormack and colleagues concluded, according to U.S. News & World Report.