PrEP shows promise against HIV infection

March 27, 2016

But in a second counterintuitive finding, the UCLA researchers say this conventional approach is actually the worst strategy. Instead, they suggest, PrEP programs should be rolled out around treatment programs that are having little success and where rates of resistance are high. Their model shows that this unconventional approach would prevent the maximum number of infections and result in the greatest decrease in drug resistance.

"By cutting down infections, the PrEP programs will decrease the number entering treatment programs, and therefore, fewer individuals will acquire drug resistance," Blower said. "So introducing PrEP around the worst treatment programs will have the most impact on reducing resistance."

A PrEP clinical trial that involved men who had sex with men and transgender women who had sex with men found that PrEP reduced the risk of acquiring HIV infection by 44 percent. Two other PrEP trials, which involved heterosexual men and women, showed significant reductions in risk, ranging as high as 73 percent.

"These results are very promising," Supervie said. "Our model shows that if the roll-out of PrEP is carefully planned, it could decrease resistance and increase the sustainability of treatment programs. But if it is not, resistance could increase, and the sustainability of treatment programs in resource-constrained countries could be compromised."

"The model we have designed is a very important health policy and planning tool," Blower said. "It can be used for any African country to decide where to roll out PrEP, as well as to predict the impact of PrEP on reducing their HIV epidemic. It is a critical time for decision-makers in Botswana and other African countries."

Source: University of California - Los Angeles