Sexual Health news - HIV

Study: Preventive HIV drugs may be cost-effective


The use of the combination drug tenofovir-emtricitabine, marketed commercially under the name Truvada, has been shown to be effective when used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.

While previous studies have shown that widespread use of this form of PrEP may be prohibitively expensive, a new trial from researchers at Stanford University outlines some ways in which it can be made more cost-effective.

Authors of the study created a model that focused on men who have sex with men (MSM), as this tends to be a high-risk demographic. They found that while targeting all members of this broad group of men may end up costing an exorbitant amount of money – to the tune of $495 billion – over a 20-year period.

However, the scientists theorized that it may be more fiscally responsible to only treat a portion of high-risk men – those with at least five sexual partners per year. When adjusting to account for the cost of treating just 20 percent of high-risk MSM for 20 years, authors of the study determined that the net amount would be about $16.6 billion.

While this figure may still seem relatively high, the team said that it's a good value, because it reduces the risk of all future infections, about 41,000, to be exact. Additionally, PrEP use is thought to add years to a person's life.

The researchers concluded that the widespread use of PrEP may face some challenges due to its cost.

"In the current healthcare climate, PrEP's costs may become prohibitive, especially given the other competing priorities for HIV resources, such as providing treatment for infected individuals," said first author Jessie Juusola.