A Tokyo-based hospital is set to begin a clinical study to determine if HIV infection rates can decrease if high-risk people take daily anti-viral medications.
The study is set to begin next month.
According to the Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, it’ll be the first kind of study for the area. The study will look at people who have a higher chance of becoming HIV infected, including gay men and men who have occasional sex with other men.
The study is being conducted after reports that Japan saw 1,500 new cases of the disease as well as HIV infections amount those who have no symptoms of it, even though there have been repeated calls to use condoms and other safety measures.
A source close to the project said anti-viral medication is used in many countries around the world to stop the HIV spread.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is promoting the approach, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP, for short), According to its website, people at high risk for HIV can use PrEP to decrease their chances of HIV infection by taking it every day. With daily use of PrEP, they can reduce their chance of getting HIV from sexual activity by over 90 percent.
The technique will also protect against HIV infections when a condom isn’t used or has torn.
The two-year clinical study will involve 120 participants who meet certain criteria such as being infected with an STD in the last year and engaging in unprotected sex within the last six months.
The participants will use the anti-viral medication Truvada each day and participate in quarterly hospital exams.
The hospital will conduct regular checks on the subject to keep a scenario where an HIV infection is apparent, and the participant is still using Truvada. This could lead to a resistance to the drug, which would decrease their treatment options.
The study will look at how people’s view of HIV is affecting their decision to protect themselves from HIV and other STDs.
The medication, which is has a cost of $1,100 a month, will be given to the participants for free. Even if the medication is deemed successful in preventing HIV infection, the chances of it being covered by insurance companies are low. This mean financial assistance from the state would be needed to help those who need it.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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