AHF Survey of Gays Raises Questions About Gilead’s Truvada for HIV Prevention

AHF Conducted Groundbreaking Community Survey in Response to Gilead Sciences' Pursuit of FDA Approval of its AIDS Drug Truvada for Prevention Use (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP). Online Exploratory Study Surveyed Diverse Group of 822 Men, Results Show Need for More Understanding of Adherence Issues, Prevention Pill's Impact on Behavior, Condom Use & Public Health.

By AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Los Angeles, California

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today released the results of a groundbreaking online survey designed to gain better understanding of community perceptions regarding the possible use of an HIV prevention pill. The nonprofit organization conducted the survey in response to news earlier this year that a study of 2,500 high risk men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) (known as the iPrex Study) showed a 44% effectiveness rate in preventing HIV transmission among those who took Gilead Sciences’ best-selling HIV treatment Truvada as form of prevention.

AHF’s survey, which was presented yesterday as part of an HIV PrEP Symposium at UCLA, raises questions about the use of Truvada as an HIV prevention pill—or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The online focus group was designed to determine “real world” reactions from prospective consumers about taking PrEP and to gain further information about potential adherence issues and the pill’s possible impact on condom use.

Among the findings: 79% of respondents answered “Yes” to the question: “If you could take a pill on a daily basis to prevent HIV, would you take it?” However, only 63% of respondents said they would be “Very Likely” to remember to take the prevention pill every day. The percentage of men who would take the pill decreased significantly when the possible need for frequent doctor visits and co-payments were introduced with only 41% responding “Yes” to taking the pill if it required paying up to $60.00 every month in co-payments and laboratory costs.

“The results of AHF’s groundbreaking community survey shows that there truly is ‘no magic pill’ when it comes to HIV prevention,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The need for more ‘real-world’ information on the use of PrEP is key before consideration of FDA approval or the widespread marketing of Truvada for HIV prevention. The survey raised real questions about the use of Truvada as PrEP particularly with regards to adherence issues and the public health implications of decreased condom use. In light of recent research proving a 96% reduction in transmission when HIV-positive patients are on treatment, we in the HIV/AIDS community must ask ourselves where resources are best spent to combat the epidemic—and this survey seems to raise a lot of questions about whether PrEP is the most effective route.

The online survey was administered by a third party company called Research Now which recruited a total of 822 participants. Respondents were ethnically diverse males who identified as gay, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender or bisexual.

Of the 822 men surveyed:
• 23% were Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American/Other; 15% were African American/Black/Caribbean American; 32% were Caucasian/White and 30% were Hispanic/Latino.
• The percentage of men who identified as gay was 87%; 11% identified as bisexual; 1% were MSM and 1% transgender.
• Of the respondents, 35% were in the 18-34 age range, 51% were 35-54 and 14% were age 55 or older.

The survey consisted of thirteen multiple-choice questions. Once the respondents qualified to proceed with the survey, the following introduction was listed: “Consideration is being given for approval to give an HIV medication to people who are HIV negative to prevent them from becoming infected with HIV. This survey is designed to determine how this medication would be used in a ‘real world’ situation.”

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