Australian man tests positive for HIV while taking PrEP

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An Australian man taking part in a PrEP trial has tested positive for HIV.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, is an anti-retroviral drug taken by HIV-negative people which, if used consistently, can help to reduce the risk of contracting the virus by more that 90%.

It’s now been reported that a PrEP-taking male has tested positive to HIV at a Melbourne clinic.

The patient is the first in Australia and the fourth around the world to acquire HIV while taking PrEP, following similar cases in Toronto and New York in 2016, and another in Amsterdam earlier this year.

Related: Welsh government announces plans to trial HIV prevention drug PrEP on the NHS

The Victorian AIDS Council have highlighted two possible reasons for this – firstly, if a person fails to regularly take their prescribed dose then it’s possible that they wouldn’t be protected.

Secondly, if a person comes into contact with a person living with HIV who has a detectable viral load and a strain of the virus that is resistant to the PrEP medication, it is possible that they may be infected.

Victorian AIDS Council CEO Simon Ruth said: “Currently there are over 100,000 individuals who are taking PrEP globally as a way to protect themselves against HIV acquisition.

“To date, there have been no confirmed case in Australia of a person on PrEP being infected with a drug-resistant HIV.

“There have been no reported occurrences of widespread PrEP failure here or around the world where in many locations PrEP is approved and subsidised.

“The vast majority of people taking PrEP in this country and around the world continue to be protected by this powerful HIV prevention tool.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that US scientists had successfully cured a group of animals of HIV for the first time ever using cutting-edge medical technology, fuelling hopes for a cure for humans.

Related: Scotland becomes first country in the UK to offer HIV prevention drug PrEP on the NHS

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