According to a new study announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a daily dose of a medication used to treat HIV infection reduced by 49 percent the risk of HIV acquisition among people who inject drugs.
Those who took the medication most consistently had even higher levels of protection, according to the research in collaboration with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Thailand Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). The findings were published in the Lancet.
Officials called it the first evidence that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) offers significant protection to individuals exposed to HIV through injection drug use.
“This is a significant step forward for HIV prevention. We now know that PrEP can work for all populations at increased risk for HIV,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Injection drug use accounts for a substantial portion of the HIV epidemic around the world, and we are hopeful that PrEP can play a role in reducing the continued toll of HIV infection in this population.”
The findings are from the Bangkok Tenofovir Study, a clinical trial launched in 2005 involving more than 2,400 men and women at Bangkok city-run drug treatment clinics. Injection drug use accounts for eight percent of new HIV infections in the United States and approximately 10 percent of new HIV infections worldwide.
In some regions of the world, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, this route of transmission accounts for up to 80 percent of new infections.