Terrence Higgins Trust today welcomed the peer reviewed publication of the PROUD study, conducted in England, that proves PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis effectively) prevents HIV.
Publication of the data in a peer review journal means the ground breaking daily pill, that effectively protects people most at risk from HIV transmission, could soon be an NHS reality.
Dr Michael Brady, Terrence Higgins Trust Medical Director, said:
“The efficacy of this treatment as a HIV prevention tool is clear. Today’s Lancet publication is an essential step towards ensuring access to PrEP for those who need it.
“We are campaigning for PrEP to be available on the NHS. For this to happen the treatment needs to be approved by NHS England and the publication of the impressive PROUD results in a peer review journal will support this process.
“Like HIV treatment, the history of HIV prevention has evolved over time. A ‘combination approach’ to HIV prevention is possible, and we need access to PrEP now.”
Approximately 2,600 new HIV transmissions are recorded each year in MSM (men who have sex with men), and this figure has not really changed over the last decade. Condoms are effective but consistent condom use is not always a reality. The PROUD study clearly showed that PrEP was highly effective at preventing HIV transmission among MSM in a ‘real life’ setting.
Those most at risk of HIV transmission need a range of options and choices to best meet their individual needs and circumstances. PrEP, with other effective prevention interventions such as condom use, behaviour change, regular HIV testing, and treatment itself (the chance of HIV transmission if on effective ART is negligible.) must be a part of this.
According to a blog post on the Terrence Higgins Trust site, with regards to whether the drug should be available on the NHS, The Trust has said:
“Formal evaluation is being done but it is likely that PrEP will be very cost effective. Whilst Truvada can cost up to £6,000 a year, this will be money well spent if it prevents HIV infections. The estimated lifetime cost of treating and managing HIV is £250,000 – £350,000. In practice drug prices are often negotiated down and many people won’t need or take PrEP all the time, which will further reduce cost.
Although this particular trial has ended, the people who took part will have access to the drug until April 2016. What these results have confirmed is how incredibly effective PrEP can be and, as such, it needs to become part of the range of HIV prevention tools we currently have. The benefits to the participants of PROUD are now clear and we should not delay in making PrEP available on the NHS to all those most at risk of HIV.
The evidence is now so strong that Terrence Higgins Trust is calling on NHS England and Local Authorities to make PrEP available to people who are at increased risk of acquiring HIV. We will also be working with the NHS and partner organisations across the UK.
There are also other potential benefits to PrEP: the availability of the drug is likely to encourage more people to attend Sexual Health services which also provide testing for other STIs, support, counselling and other HIV prevention interventions to those who may be at high risk.”
For more details about the PROUD trial, please see below:
Proud evaluated the impact of PrEP in a high-risk group of gay men in a way that reflected “real life” use of the drug as closely as possible: 545 men were randomly allocated to either take Truvada straight away or to defer treatment for a year.
Both groups then had regular three-monthly clinic visits, completed questionnaires on sexual behaviour, adherence to the medication, and were tested for sexually transmitted infections.
The study found no difference in reports of condom use between the two groups and no difference in rates of other STIs either –contradicting the claim that access to PrEP would somehow encourage an increase in risky sexual behaviour.
PROUD clinical trial data can be found here here .
Terrence Higgins Trust dedicated PrEP Facebook