A person taking the HIV preventative drug, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), in Melbourne has become HIV positive.
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) said there were two possible reasons for why he seroconverted. The first is if he was not adherent to his PrEP regimen – not taking the prescribed amount. Alternatively, he might have come into contact with a person living with HIV who had a detectable viral load together with a strain of the virus that is resistant to PrEP medication.
While the second possibility could happen, it would be extremely rare that they might acquire that viral strain of HIV.
‘Currently there are over 100,000 individuals who are taking PrEP globally as a way to protect themselves against HIV acquisition,’ said VAC CEO, Simon Ruth.
‘To date there have been no confirmed cases in Australia of a person on PrEP being infected with a drug-resistant HIV.
‘There have been no reported occurrences of widespread PrEP failure here or around the world where in many locations PrEP is approved and subsidised.
‘The vast majority of people taking PrEP in this country and around the world continue to be protected by this powerful HIV prevention tool.’
PrEP stats strong
Globally there has only been three cases of a person seroconverting while on PrEP. The diagnosis in Melbourne is the fourth.
Cases in New York and Toronto last year are the only confirmed results of someone acquiring HIV from a PrEP resistant strain while on the medication.
A case in Amsterdam is awaiting confirmation for the cause of diagnosis.
The man in Melbourne was a part of a PrEPX study sponsored by the Victorian Government, Alfred Health and VAC. 3200 men are currently on the trial, while another 600 are on the waiting list.
A spokesperson for Alfred Health said: ‘Researchers are reviewing the clinical details of a man who has tested positive to HIV while being a registered participant of the Victorian PrEPX study’.
‘There has been no confirmed case in Australia of a person on PrEP being infected with drug-resistant HIV,’ they said.
— Nic Holas (@nicheholas) May 22, 2017
Currently, the drug Truvada is not subsidised for use as PrEP in Australia. Many import the drug from overseas via a PrEP collective. There are also many men who are on one of a handful of PrEP trials around the country.
Truvada can cost up to $1200 (USD896) in Australia. But advocates are hopeful it will soon be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which will make it more affordable.
VAC’s Simon Ruth stressed the importance of continuing to consider all options when it comes to HIV prevention.
‘It is important that gay men and all people at risk of HIV infection consider and decide on the best way to protect themselves from the range of safe sex options available to them,’ he said.