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First documented case of man on PrEP testing positive for HIV made public

First documented case of man on PrEP testing positive for HIV made public

For the first time, a gay man who had been on a daily regimen of the drug Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has tested HIV positive.

The 43-year-old man had been taking the drug regularly for 24 months, had previously responded well to it, and appears to have been infected very recently.

Richard Harrigan, PhD, director of the lab program at the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada, was one of the researchers on this case study and tells  Poz.com: ‘This case demonstrates that while PrEP is beneficial, we can’t rely on it to be an infallible magic bullet.’

‘I certainly don’t think that this is a situation which calls for panic,’ Harrigan adds.  ‘It is an example that demonstrates that PrEP can sometimes be ineffective in the face of drug resistant virus, in the same way that treatment itself can sometimes be ineffective in the face of drug resistant virus.’

An estimated 21,000 Americans are currently on Truvada which was approved as PrEP by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012.  Last November, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that one in four sexually active gay and bisexual men take the blue pill.

Experts say while they believe such a case will be rare, it happened because the man contracted a virus resistant to tenofovir and emtricitabine which are the two drugs in Truvada.

While CDC guidelines recommend that men who have sex with men take Truvada every day for protection, researchers have estimated that men take it at least four times a week are more than 99 % protected against HIV.

The HIV positive man is being successfully treated and his viral load is currently fully suppressed.

‘This person claims he was taking PrEP every day and I believe him,’ Dr. Robert M. Grant tells Poz.com.

Grant is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who headed the 2010 drug trial that first proved PrEP’s effectiveness.

‘After 32 years of experience with HIV research, I have learned never to say “never,”‘ he adds.  ‘Yet I also think that gay men benefit from feeling safer during sex, and I am grateful that PrEP affords that feeling.’