Healthy gay men should be offered daily HIV drugs, such as Truvada, to prevent infections, according to new research by UK Medical Research Council.
The Proud study, which recruited 545 high-risk participants from 13 sexual health clinics across England, found that pre-exposure to the HIV drug Truvada can reduce the risk of infection in men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) by as much as 86 per cent.
The findings have been described as a “game changer” and the NHS is considering how to adopt them.
”These results show there is a need for PrEP, and offer hope of reversing the epidemic among men who have sex with men in this country,” said Chief investigator Professor Sheena McCormack, from the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Trials Unit at University College London.
“The findings we’ve presented today are going to be invaluable in informing discussions about making PrEP available through the NHS.”
In London, one in 8 gay men has HIV while the figure is 1 in 26 elsewhere in the UK, according to government group Public Health England.
The test subjects were divided into two groups with one given Truvada immediately and the other a year later. 276 patients were given the preventative drugs, 269 were initially not.
Comparing the two made it possible to assess the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men at high risk of HIV infection, reports The Telegraph.
In the first year of the study, 19 out of the 269 men who were not given the medicine developed HIV, but there were only two cases of HIV in the 276 patients given preventative drugs – a fall of 86%.
The cost of the medicines would come to £360 per month per person. The National Aids Trust have said they would pay for themselves because of the costs of treating HIV, reports BBC.
Chief executive Deborah Gold said: “If we can stop people getting HIV by giving them PrEP, we have an ethical duty to do so.
“Furthermore, over the course of their lifetime the treatment of those 19 men will cost the NHS nearly £7m, so the financial argument is clear, as is the ethical one.
“PrEP needs to be available on the NHS as soon as possible for all those who need it.”
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