Health care

Can PrEP eliminate the need for protection?

10/07/2015 Parvesh Bravo 0 Comments

Anyone keeping up with research on developing a drug that would make a man immune to HIV will know there have been at least three different studies that have somewhat of the same results. PrEP is a pre-exposure prophylaxis drug that is an anti-viral which is a pill for men who have sex with men. If it is effective, will gay or bi-sexual men quit using condoms?

There was a 32 month study in the US which covered 657 individuals. At the end of the study not one of the members of the test group had contracted HIV. The drug Truvada has been available in the US since 2012 and it is recommended for all men who have sex with other men. Has it taken the place of condoms? No.

The second study was conducted by the University College of London and was named PROUD. However, this research showed that for at-risk men taking the drug, the effectiveness was just 86%. That still leaves 14% of men at risk if they do not combine the drug with the use of a condom. Truvada is not approved in the UK as yet.

There is no doubt that combining the drug with condom use would be a powerful duo in preventing HIV. But there are other considerations. Some STDs are bacterial and not viral. In the layman’s mind this means that they could contract STDs without condom use – but maybe not HIV.

Both men and women have been asked their opinions about the use of a PrEP rather than a condom. Some voiced their concern regarding long-term use. Women who take birth control pills put themselves in danger of blood clots and other illnesses. If the new pill is an anti-viral, is it similar to an antibiotic? Will it lose its effectiveness over time or will a person’s body develop an immunity to it?

Then there is the same problem that faces almost every individual who takes medications on a daily basis – what if you forget to take your pill. What are the consequences?

The use of a PrEP is going to take a great deal of public education. There will be many questions. However, the smart money is on the premise that nothing will take away the security and peace of mind that a condom offers.