New Canadian guidelines recommend the use of PrEP and PEP
New medication guidelines in Canada recommend that people at high risk of contracting HIV take new drugs both before and after exposure to the virus to prevent HIV infection.
The new strategy, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, recommends the combination of PrEP (a pre-exposure prohylaxis drug) and nPEP (a non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis) as a highly-effective way of preventing HIV infection, EureakAlert reports.
"There are new biomedical HIV prevention strategies that have been widely endorsed worldwide by organizations including the WHO, U.S. CDC and others," told the study's lead author, Darrell Tan. "In particular, PrEP is a highly effective and safe Health Canada-approved method that involves taking a daily pill, which, if taken properly, can offer almost 100% protection against new HIV infection."
The drug intervention is to be used alongside other protection — like condoms — to prevent contracting HIV.
These new guidelines will aid in the prevention of HIV transmission in Canada's most at-risk populations. Men who have sex with men are 131 times more likely to acquire HIV than other Canadian men, with fifty four per cent of all new HIV infections in Canada occurring in this population. Injection drug users are 59 times more likely than non-users to acquire HIV.
The combination of PrEP and nPEP is also much more affordable than past options, the study said.
"To date, the cost of these medications has restricted the feasibility and acceptability of these strategies," Tan said. "However, the recent introduction of generic versions of antiretroviral medications, as well as increasing availability of public drug coverage for PrEP in Canada may have a substantial effect on their uptake."