A study by Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University offers hope for new HIV prevention options.
The study looked at two treatments and found that they played a key role in the prevention of the virus and recommended further measures to be put in place to make use of the options.
The research, published by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), looked at one treatment to prevent transmission and one to prevent contraction.
The Treatment as Prevention’ (TasP) strategy looked at the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)- which keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level- to prevent transmission.
The Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment looked at the use of ARVs by HIV-negative individuals to prevent contracting HIV.
The research cites lack of awareness and limited understanding of their effectiveness as barriers to the implementation of TasP and PrEP and experts are calling for more to be done to demonstrate how both can be part of a safe and comprehensive risk management strategy in transmission of HIV.
When looking at the use of TasP among people diagnosed with HIV the researchers also found that inequalities in HIV literacy and increased burden of treatment were among factors that would limit the effectiveness of TasP and increase the social burden of living with HIV.
There was also evidence that HIV-stigma would form a barrier to TasP being seen as a socially acceptable HIV prevention option.
The findings, made by researchers at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University, come from the first qualitative study in the UK to assess the acceptability of these new prevention options. “The teams were led by Dr Ingrid Young at the University of Glasgow and Dr Paul Flowers at Glasgow Caledonian University.”
Dr Ingrid Young, Research Fellow MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, was the lead researcher in the study. She said: “PrEP and TasP can play an important role in comprehensive HIV prevention strategies. However, we need to pay attention to the social and sexual context within which they will be used.”
“Our research highlights the need to consider how inequalities in knowledge and understanding of these tools need to be addressed.
“It is vital that we consider how PrEP and TasP are translated into real world contexts and how both potential users and health providers are supported in using these tools in socially acceptable and sustainable ways.”