IMT (Tropical Medicine Institute) is starting the first Belgian research project aiming to assess if an HIV prevention treatment can be implemented on Thursday, reveals the Antwerp-based institute. IMT is looking for 200 homosexuals at increasd risk of HIV, to take part in the study.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a pill made of HIV inhibitors, in order to prevent a viral infection in people with an increased risk of contamination, as an addition to the usual preventative methods.
IMT will monitor 200 homosexuals undergoing treatment for 18 months, with the support of IWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology). The institute will check whether people are systematically taking their pill, how they feel about it, and whether there are consequently changes in how they use condoms.
It is the first time PrEP is being assessed in Belgium. “Various studies in other countries such as the United States, The UK and France show that systematic use brings a high level of protection against HIV,” points out IMT. PrEP does nothing to prevent other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) however.
“PrEP is a promising treatment, but side effects of a preventive treatment must be assessed before the method can be used strategically in our country,” explains Dr. Marie Laga, the research project coordinator.
Every day, three new cases of HIV are confirmed in Belgium. “Over 80% of cases are Belgian men who caught the virus during homosexual intercourse,” points out IMT. Homosexuals who would like to take part in the study can register until September 24th and information can be found on www.be-prep-ared.be/fr/deelname-fr.