via, by Gus Cairns

Within the next three years, up to 33,000 people may take part in 22 different studies worldwide to demonstrate the feasibility, or otherwise, of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, the IAPAC evidence summit, Controlling the HIV epidemic with antiretrovirals, was told on 12 June.Some of these studies are underway but others are still in the design stage or in need of funding.
Dr Jim Rooney of Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of tenofovir (Viread) and Truvada (tenofovir and FTC), the products being tested in the vast majority of these studies, told the meeting that up to 13,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) could end up being involved in 14 different studies and up to 19,500 heterosexual men and women in eight studies. These studies were particularly crucial in establishing whether PrEP might be less, or more, effective in open-label settings than in randomised placebo-controlled trials.

Some of these are ongoing or open-label extensions of studies such as Partners PrEP in 4758 sero-different couples in Kenya and Uganda, or iPrEx OLE (Open Label Extension) in 1500 MSM in six countries. 

Others are just beginning, such as the IPERGAY study of intermittent PrEP in gay men in France. While it is planned that this could eventually include 1900 men, researcher Bruno Spire told the IAPAC meeting that 300 participants had to be enrolled by February 2013 if the next phase of the study was to be funded, and that recruitment had been rather slow so far, partly because of “ideological obstacles” to there being a placebo arm.

Similarly, Dr Sheena McCormack of the UK’s Medical Research Council told the meeting that, while the planned UK PROUD study of immediate versus delayed PrEP could eventually include 5000 MSM, only a pilot project in 300 MSM has so far been proposed, with a tentative start date (if the protocol is agreed) in October 2012. 

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