Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

PrEP trial successes prompt cost-effectiveness questions

By Roxanne Khamsi

Clinical trial data are starting to pour in demonstrating that the HIV prevention strategy known as ‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’ is an effective way of keeping people at high risk of infection disease free. In July, researchers reported at the International AIDS Society Conference in Rome that taking an antiretroviral drug called Truvada offered a 73% protection rate for heterosexual couples in East Africa in which only one person had HIV. At the same meeting, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced trial results demonstrating a 63% reduction in transmission among young adults in Botswana taking the pill.

Buoyed by these and similar findings reported last year among men who have sex with men, health policy experts and economists are now debating how best to roll out the strategy to those who might benefit most. Preliminary analyses, experts say, indicate that PrEP should be a cost-effective tool to address the HIV epidemic until more testing and treatment for the disease becomes available.

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