(CTN News) – The results of a study show that an anti-HIV medication is an effective “real-world” prophylactic treatment.
Some have called the “reassuring” findings from the study of 24,000 people who took it across England.
Thanks to sexual health clinics, PrEP is already being administered to thousands of people.
The Terrence Higgins Trust, an HIV charity, is advocating for more accessible medication because many people, particularly women, are unaware that it is available.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the PrEP Impact Trial was the biggest real-world study of its type ever. It was co-led by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
From October 2017 through July 2020, it was conducted at 157 sexual health clinics spread out across England.
One method that was discovered in the study is pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. lowered the risk of contracting HIV by 86%. It was found to be 99% effective in clinical testing.
According to Dr. John Saunders, a specialist in sexual health and HIV who was involved in the study, “this trial has further demonstrated the effectiveness of PrEP in preventing HIV transmission and has, for the first time, shown the protective effect reported by earlier trials, but at scale, and delivered through routine sexual health services in England.”
While the Terrence Higgins Trust HIV charity was pleased with the study’s release, they did note that “more to be done” to raise drug knowledge and availability, especially among marginalized communities.
Director of policy Debbie Laycock stated: “We think that there are certain communities and individuals at the moment who could benefit from PrEP but aren’t accessing it.”
“A lot of women are unaware that PrEP is available,” she continued.
According to her, the nonprofit organization is advocating for the widespread availability of PrEP by having it sold in pharmacies and online.
According to Dr. Saunders, this study not only confirmed the drug’s clinical success but also provided further crucial information regarding its usage.
“Before, we didn’t know how many people would want it, take it, or how long they would stay on it for,” according to him.
“Now we know who is being prescribed it and we can work with clinics to try and get more people to take it.”
If the medicine is taken properly, among other things, he noted, “real-world effectiveness” would depend.
Participants like Harry Dodd, who has participated in multiple PrEP trials, report feeling “empowering” after starting the medication since they no longer worry about contracting HIV.
I feel freed because I haven’t given that any thought for almost ten years. Since starting the medication, I have been aware of the possibility of having a long-term partner with HIV, which was previously unknown to me. I am now able to love without reservation.
It was “sexually related and historically connected to gay communities” that the substance was stigmatized, according to Mr. Dodd, a 33-year-old from north London.
The UKSHA stated that the medicine’s efficacy will contribute to the government’s goal of achieving zero new HIV infections by 2030; nonetheless, they emphasized the importance of increasing drug usage.
Although the drug’s target demographic is homosexual and bisexual men, Dr. Saunders suggested that many other demographics, including straight women, would reap benefits from using it.
PrEP prevents HIV from entering the body and replicating itself with the help of the current HIV therapy medications tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine.
Either take one pill every day or take it just before a sexual encounter, or on a “event” basis.
Previous results from this study and other clinical studies informed the decision to expand access to the medication on the English National Health Service (NHS) in 2020.
Due to the lengthy peer review process and large sample size, the findings of this study were only recently published in the Lancet HIV.
We have reached out to NHS England for their reaction.