New York: MSM Taking PrEP Pill Willing to Take the Injectable Form Should it be Made Available

About 75% gay and men having sex with men (MSM) who are at present taking HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as an oral daily pill say that they would prefer to take it as a long-acting injection should it be made available.

They however, would skip injecting themselves with PrEP if there were doubts about the level of protection that would be offered by the injectable form. It’s for this reason that there are still ongoing studies on the acceptability and preference of long-acting injectable HIV PrEP.

HIV PrEP is a preventive drug taken by HIV negative individuals who are at risk of getting infected with the virus. The drug acts as protection against the virus reducing the chances of the individual getting infected. This drug works differently from HIV PEP, which is administered within 72 hours of suspected exposure to the HIV virus. Research studies have shown the drug to have up to 99% efficiency.

Clinical Trials Ongoing

Clinical trials of the injectable form of PrEP are currently in Phase 2a. The trials have so far shown the injection to have budding advantages, most importantly there will no longer be a need to take daily treatment and have to adhere to strict levels of treatment.

Researchers in New York City did a study to find out how gay and bisexual men currently on oral PrEP treatment feel about the possibility of having PrEP in injectable form once it’s available for sale.

The Study

The researchers recruited 104 study participants in New York City over a period of one year (November 2015 to November 2016). The participants were all male and identify themselves as either gay or bisexual.

They were also taking oral PrEP for at least the last 30 days prior to the study. Half of the participants used drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine or methamphetamine.

The researchers used computerised questionnaires to assess their knowledge of PrEP injection and their attitudes towards it.

Among the things that the researchers were interested in were the participants’ demographics, level of education and income in order to find out if there were any factors associated with knowledge and acceptability of long-acting PrEP injection.

50% of the participants were white, 75% had a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 42% earned at least $50,000 annually. The mean age of the participants was 35 years.

Efficiency is More Important Than the Method of PrEP Administration

64% of the participants were taking PrEP for less than a year prior to the study. 52% of the participants knew of the PrEP injection. 30% of them said they’d prefer the injection should it be approved.

75% of the participants were more pragmatic about the injection stating that they would use any therapy that is proven to be more effective. 88% of them felt that protection from the injectable PrEP might wear off between doses.

62% of the study population said that they were not bothered about using needles for the injectable PrEP and 55% did not mind having to see a health care provider every three months to get the injection. 93% however, expressed concerns about possible side-effects of the injection.

The researchers observed that those with lower levels of education were more likely to favour PrEP injection while those with a college degree were more apprehensive. Men who had been taking oral PrEP for longer periods were also more likely to prefer the injection than those who had just started taking PrEP.

The researchers concluded that many men already taking PrEP would prefer the injectable form should it be made available. However, to increase acceptability, there is need to prove the efficiency of the injection to provide long term HIV prevention just as is with the oral therapy.

Contact Shim Clinic to Learn More

If you think you are someone who works in a high-risk environment, engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, it is important to visit a trusted an experienced STD clinic in Singapore like Shim Clinic for advice as well as to get tested for HIV as well as testing for other STDs.

Source:  AIDS Behavior, online edition.