For more than 10 years now, the world has known about the effectiveness of PrEP treatment thanks to the IPrex study carried out in 2010. However, its use in prevention is often unknown. In the UK, between 19,000 and 20,000 people are using PrEP.
This study showed more than encouraging results in the prevention of AIDS, with the number of people who contracted HIV reduced by 44% thanks to PrEP.
A brief look at the history of AIDS
First of all, a short history lesson on HIV treatments is necessary. In 1994, AIDS became the leading cause of death in the USA among 25-34 year olds. Triple therapy was introduced in the US the following year in an attempt to stem the spread of HIV. In 1996, for the first time, the number of deaths in the US declined thanks to the effectiveness of triple therapy. In 1999, a WHO report estimated that 50 million people were infected with HIV. In 2012, the USA authorised the PrEP treatments to contain the increasing transmission of HIV.
The study that led to PrEP
The Iprex study started in 2006 on all continents except Europe and Oceania. Each continent had the same objective: to prove the effectiveness of a preventive treatment based on triple therapy. The studies conducted each had different treatments (molecules used) and different methods of administering the drug treatments.
The participants in this large study had to meet certain criteria in order to be able to best judge the effectiveness of a potential preventive treatment. They had to be men over 18 years of age and, above all, not be infected with HIV. But they had to be at high risk of infection. They had to have at least one risk factor such as not having used a condom during homosexual anal sex in the last 6 months, having had more than 3 sexual partners in the last 6 months or having had sex for money.
The majority of participants were young men, 50% of whom were between 18 and 24 years old. The average age of the study was 27 years. 1% of the participants were transgender women (born male).
Prior to the study, participants had had an average of 18 sexual partners in the last 12 weeks, 40% had used prostitution in the last 6 months. 60% had had unprotected sex in the last 12 weeks. And 30% were infected with HSV-2 (herpes).
More than convincing results
Since the Iprex study, the new results show a real drop in infections thanks to PrEP, almost 100% in France. In the UK, the figures are not as encouraging, but the rate of infection has still fallen to its lowest level since 2000.
"Raising awareness of PrEP outside the gay community will also go a long way to helping us achieve zero transmission by 2030." Ian Green, Director of Terrence Higgins Trust.
The objective of the British AIDS associations is to reach zero HIV transmission by 2030.
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