SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) welcome the results of the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEX) trial. Published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the study is the first to establish that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – taking antiretroviral (ARV) medicines before sex – reduces the risk of HIV infection. It follows closely on the heels of the CAPRISA 004 trial, which demonstrated that the use of tenofovir 1% gel reduced the risk of HIV infection amongst women at increased risk.
The iPrEx trial enrolled 2499 men who have sex with men (MSM) at 11 sites across the world (including Cape Town). Half of the trial participants were randomly assigned to take a daily dose of two ARV medicines – tenofovir disproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC) – combined into a single pill. The other half, also randomly assigned, received a daily placebo. All received a comprehensive package of HIV prevention services, including regular HIV testing, risk-reduction counselling, condoms, and the treatment of symptomatic sexually transmitted infections.