The latest developments in the upcoming PrEP trial
Last Thursday, NHS England announced that their latest PrEP trial is ready to start in September. We’ve laid out everything you need to know.
What is the IMPACT trial?
The IMPACT trial will give 10,000 people the HIV prevention drug PrEP over three years. It’s not establishing whether PrEP is effective as a HIV prevention method, as this has already been proven in multiple trials. However, it is instead trying to work out the practicalities of getting PrEP to those who need it most and how it can be implemented efficiently in the future.
Can anybody enrol in the trial?
Sexual health clinics will offer patients PrEP if they meet the eligibility criteria. However, the £10m budget earmarked for the trial can only cover 10,000 participants. It is currently unclear what will happen if that limit is reached. They are also looking to include a diverse population for an effective trial.
Who is eligible to enrol?
They are targeting populations who are at high risk of acquiring HIV, including; men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans women who have had unprotected sex in the previous three months and are likely to do so again in the next three months; HIV-negative people in relationships with someone diagnosed with HIV who is not known to be virally suppressed; and people who have unprotected sex with partners from countries with a high prevalence of HIV.
Which sexual health clinics are signed up to the trial?
All of the 230 GUM clinics in England have been invited to participate, with the desire to include as many as possible, both urban and rural, to reach varied populations. From September, clinics in London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool, and Sheffield will be starting to enrol patients. However, overall enrolment will be staggered so as to allow all remaining clinics joining later to participate fully. It is hoped that all participating clinics will be involved by April 2018 at the very latest.
What will the trial involve for those enrolled?
It should be noted that there will not be a placebo in this trial and all participants will be receiving PrEP. They will have to take initial HIV/STI tests before they can start taking the drug. After that, they will have to make follow-up visits to their clinics one month after the start date and then every three months thereafter for HIV/STI tests, risk reduction interventions, and to ensure that it’s not having any side effects, particularly with kidney function.
Are there any other ways of getting PrEP in England?
Genuine generic PrEP medication can be bought from abroad online at discounted prices (from £39 a month). For further information and stockists, please visit iwantprepnow.co.uk or prepster.info, who have worked with sexual health doctors to ensure that the drugs are genuine. Increased numbers of people taking PrEP in London is one of the reasons attributed to the drop in HIV infections recorded in London sexual health clinics last year.
For more information on the IMPACT Trial, please visit www.prepster.info/impact