Scientists have discovered a daily pill which can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 86 percent among gay men. Leading specialists have described the results of a major UK trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as "extremely exciting" and a "game-changer".
Despite major advances in the fight against HIV/Aids in recent decades, the infection rate among men who have sex with men remains stubbornly high in the UK and the results of the trial have led to calls for PrEP to be offered free by the NHS as the Proud study found that it cut the risk of HIV infection among gay men by an unprecedented 86 percent.
Researcher Sheena McCormack at University College London said that these results are extremely exciting and show PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV infection in the real world and concerns that PrEP would not work so well in the real world were unfounded.
McCormack added that 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. The findings they've presented today are going to be invaluable in informing discussions about making PrEP available through the NHS.
Campaigners argue that providing the pill used in the trial, Truvada, to high-risk groups could bring about a net saving for the NHS because of the huge costs of treating HIV that would be avoided if new infections were prevented.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said that during the study period there were 19 HIV infections in the group not taking PrEP and if they can stop people getting HIV by giving them PrEP, they have an ethical duty to do so.