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STUDY: South African Women Will Take Daily Pill to Prevent HIV

STUDY: South African Women Will Take Daily Pill to Prevent HIV


Contrary to some critics, research shows adherence is not an issue in PrEP treatment.

New research presented at the International AIDS Society Conference in Vancouver disproves the theory that adherence to PrEP is difficult. The study, funded by the National Institutes for Health, found that young, single black women in South Africa have no problems adhering to a daily pill regimen. The study stated that adherence was high among transgender women and men who have sex with men in the U.S. and Thailand, as well. (Read more about that here.)

In other words, high risk groups are capable of maintaining a strict, daily pill regimen in order to prevent HIV infection. 

"These are encouraging findings, demonstrating that if given access to Truvada, women and men will take it daily to prevent HIV infection," said Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH Anthony S. Fauci. "This study takes a solid step toward connecting people at particularly high risk for HIV with a proven preventable strategy that can protect them from infection." 

The evidence that PrEP can prevent infections is commonly accepted. What this study sought was a schedule patients were most likely to adhere to while on PrEP. The study included 179 women in Cape Town, 179 gay men and transgender women in Harlem, and 178 gay men and transgender women in Bangkok. Participants were randomly assigned to a group and each person was prescribed Truvada and told to take the pills according to their group's schedule. 

One group was took the pill daily. The second group took the pill twice a week and once after sex. The third took the pill before and after sex. Groups were given information on HIV infection and PrEP, and were given other preventative measures such as condoms. Anyone infected during the study was refered to care. 

Of the three groups, the one with the highest adherence was the daily pill regimen. South African women reported that the daily schedule was the easiest to keep, and this sentiment was reflected in the Harlem and Bangkok groups where adherence to a daily schedule was 65 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

"[The study] showed that daily dosing was the easiest PrEP regimen to follow," said Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is important and encouraging news, since we know that PrEP offers high level of protection against HIV when taken daily." 

Currently, the CDC recommends a daily regimen of PrEP for those who take it in the US, though critics of PrEP have raised doubts that people could adhere to a daily schedule. 

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