After three years of tests by the Institute for Tropical Medicine (IMT) in Belgium, a pill to prevent HIV infection has shown encouraging results, with no new infections detected in a group of 200 gay men monitored, the Antwerp-based institute reported on Tuesday. The Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventive pill against HIV infection that contains HIV-inhibitors. It is designed for temporary use by people who are not HIV-positive. Since mid-2017, it is reimbursed through Belgium’s Aids Reference Centres.
For three years now, the Be-PrEP-ared Project studied the extent to which gay men and transgender women, who run a high risk of infection, were willing to take the PrEP pill, their adherence to the therapy, the way they experienced the use of PrEP, and whether their condom use had changed as a result.
“This is a very reliable medicine,” Dr. Bea Vuylsteke of the IMT said. “During the study, no new infection was discovered” in the target group of high-risk gay men.
“While fast testing and early treatment of HIV, along with the promotion of risk-free sex practices are at the core of the national prevention strategy, the PrEP can be a complement for certain groups of men who have sex with men, and do not always use condoms,” said the IMT, adding, however, that “the PrEP gives no protection against other sexually transmitted infections.”
According to the IMT about 2,000 people have begun the PrEP treatment in Belgium.