The Efficacy of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for being HIV Free

October 7, 2015


We, at HIV Advocates, are one with the many in rejoicing once we hear scientific developments and studies that bring good news for the treatment of HIV infections. It is our dream that more people will have access to effective medications and other treatment options in order to lessen the burden of such health problem. With this, we were elated to know that an insurer from San Francisco, Kaiser Permanente, reiterated that out of its 657 clients who have taken pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), none of them have been infected over a period of 2 years, which means that they have been HIV-free.


The findings of the San Francisco-based insurer, however, were in contradiction with earlier studies. According to its critics, PrEP will result into the usage of less condom, and hence, will increase the likelihood of being able to acquire HIV infections. To shed light into this confusion, take a look at the study that has been published at the Clinical Infectious Diseases. Based on the research, gay men from San Francisco who have been given PrEP used fewer condoms and has resulted into venereal diseases. However, none of them have acquired HIV. These venereal disease can be cured with the use of antibiotics.


According to Dr. Jonathan E. Volk, the lead author of the study, the findings of the research are very reassuring. It shows that PrEP will be effective even in high-risk populations. Although this may not be a study that is as scientifically-robust as a randomized trial where a placebo is given to the subjects, it involves a large number of men as a trial population. This in itself already gives us a good reason to believe its findings. At HIV Advocates, we choose to be positive and take this as a welcoming development in the incessant quest towards finding a way to deal with HIV.


Being a gay-friendly city, sexual activity amongst gay men in San Francisco is high. With the PrEP, as it has been proven in the study, the HIV epidemic can be effectively dealt with. Even if the participants have shown decrease usage of condom and even if they have had multiple sex partners, PrEP has still demonstrated its high level of effectiveness in fighting infection.


With all of these things being said, in spite of some criticisms from people or groups who do not support the findings of the study, we are very happy to hear that PrEP is presenting a viable solution to the problem of HIV. At HIV Advocates, like many of you, we are always happy to be hearing this kind of news and we keep on hoping that further developments will be carried on to find the best solutions that are available.


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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis & HIV Prevention: More harm than good?

December 8, 2012

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV is a type of drug used before exposure to the virus, somewhat like a preemptive measure against HIV transmission. The purpose a PrEP drug is to prevent the infection, rather than treat the symptoms or cure AIDS.

In July 2012, the US FDA approved the PrEP drug Truvada to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection.

Debates have since sprung up on the effectiveness of prescribing what amounts to a chemotherapeutic drug to perfectly healthy people. Truvada works if taken every day. For a lifetime. Could such a “miracle drug” truly work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS?

Let’s look at the arguments.

The goal of PrEP drug is to reduce the risk of HIV infection amongst those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, such as sex workers and those who engage in activities with sex workers. While using a condom should always be the first line of defense, many wonder if such “carefree” and “reckless” individuals will be disciplined enough to take the drug daily.

Truvada itself is a costly drug, estimated at $13K per annum. While this seems to be a perfectly fair price to pay for the wealthy, questions remains on coverage by medical policies, as well as subsidies by the local governments. Such a drug would quickly cripple the funds of developing nations, which are countries with some of the highest HIV prevalence. There are fear that other medical causes, such as TB and malaria, will be affected.

On the other side of the debate, to prescribe such preventive medication to perfectly healthy people is not uncommon. Think of the vaccinations for flu, chicken pox and hepatitis B. These drugs saved lives in the millions. Why should Truvada be treated any differently?

As responsible HIV advocates, we must be vigilant in our examinations of the facts and to balance both side of the scale. Such a prevention strategy needs to be evaluated careful. Don’t jump in blindly.

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