Recent advances in pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV

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Abstract

Although pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—the use of antiretroviral drugs by non-infected people to prevent the acquisition of HIV—is a promising preventive option, important public health questions remain. Daily oral emtricitabine (FTC)-tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is highly efficacious in preventing the acquisition of HIV in people at risk as a result of a range of different types of sexual exposure. There is good evidence of efficacy in women and men, and when men who have sex with men use event based dosing. Studies have been conducted in several countries and epidemics. Because adherence to this treatment varies greatly there are questions about its public health benefit. Oral FTC-TDF is extremely safe, with minimal impact on kidney, bone, or pregnancy outcomes, and there is no evidence that its effectiveness has been reduced by risk compensation during open label and programmatic follow-up. It is too early to assess the impact of this treatment on the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at a population level. Many challenges remain. Access to pre-exposure prophylaxis is limited and disparities exist, including those governed by race and sex. Different pricing and access models need to be explored to avoid further widening inequalities. The optimal combination prevention program needs to be defined, and this will depend on local epidemiology, service provision, and cost effectiveness. This review updates the evidence base for pre-exposure prophylaxis regarding its effectiveness, safety, and risk compensation.

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