According to a new study, funded by Public Health England, giving high-risk gay men HIV drugs could significantly reduce the number of new HIV infections. While most organizations have focused on using condoms as the primary means of preventing HIV transmission, this method alone hasn't come close to solving the problem.
Mashable reports, the drug, known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), could fundamentally change the way we combat HIV. It's administered to people who don't have the virus and works by preventing it from taking hold once a person becomes exposed either through sexual encounters or intravenous drug use.
In the study, scientists took a look at a variety of preventative methods to see which one would perform the best at preventing HIV. Among gay men between the ages of 15 and 64 living in the UK, PrEP proved to be an effective solution.
In a similar study conducted at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, researchers reported there were no new HIV infections among sexually active gay men who were taking PrEP over a 32-month period.
Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said of the findings,
PrEP has been shown, both in clinical trials and in real life settings, to be highly effective at preventing HIV transmissions. Despite the proven benefits of condom use and the impact of HIV therapy on reducing transmission, the number of gay men infected with HIV each year has remained relatively stable over the last decade.
The study, published this week in the journal "The Lancet," will hopefully pave the way for the drug to gain funding and become more widely available.