US HIV strategy highlights role of PrEP
The United States government has released an updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which sets out the country’s priorities to combat HIV for the next five years. The update recognises key advances that have changed the face of the HIV response since the previous strategy was drafted. A significant development is the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a pill taken daily by HIV-negative people to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV, to the range of HIV prevention approaches available.
The drug, Truvada, was approved for use as PrEP in the US in 2012 and national guidelines on its use followed in 2014. Research has shown that Truvada used in this way can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 92%. The target group for PrEP are people at ‘substantial risk’ of infection, such as young gay and bisexual men, who accounted for 72% of new infections in the US in 2010.
The update also recommends that health care coverage programmes include PrEP as an HIV prevention approach to ensure maximum access to the drug for those that need it. Full support to ensure people are adhering to it properly is also needed, as is emphasis on the importance of its use as part of combination prevention approach (ie. it doesn’t replace condoms) to minimise risk-taking.