A new comment in the July 23 issue of The Lancet medical journal outlines the current state of HIV prevention, detailing the successes made in recent years and opportunities for improvement in implementing proven prevention methods. Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Medical Research Director and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute, was the lead author of the comment titled New HIV prevention approaches: promise, praxis, and pitfalls.
We are fortunate to have access to safe and powerful tools for HIV prevention – namely pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which since its release over a decade ago, has proven to be incredibly effective at preventing new HIV cases. Unfortunately, as the comment notes, PrEP continues to be widely underprescribed by providers and underutilized by patients, especially in some of the populations most at risk for HIV exposure. This is particularly the case in multiple sub-Saharan African countries.
PrEP options have expanded greatly in recent years. Once only available as a daily pill, studies have shown that other delivery methods, such as a vaginal ring and bimonthly injections, are also very effective at preventing HIV infection. With more choices available for PrEP, providers now have the opportunity to better tailor HIV prevention regimens to the needs of individual patients.
In addition, encouraging early data coming out of proof-of-concept trials using broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bnAB) suggest that we are closer than ever to finding an effective HIV vaccine.
The comment authors emphasize that providers should be considering PrEP as an essential part of a comprehensive sexual health program, which also includes prevention regimens around other common STIs, such as syphilis.
The full text of New HIV prevention approaches: promise, praxis, and pitfalls is now available on The Lancet here.