8 May 2019

PrEPX Study reveals increase in STIs

A/Prof Edwina Wright, Principal Investigator of the recent PrEPX study
A recent study of men using HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has explored the changes in sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence following initiation of the preventative treatment.  The data collated from almost 3000 participants in the PrEPX study revealed a 20% increase in STI rates. Interestingly, condom use did not play a part in acquiring an STI when using PrEP, despite being an initial concern for those commencing the treatment. Instead, participants reporting higher numbers of sex partners and participation in group sex were at a greater risk.

As HIV rates continue to rise, PrEP has proven to be a safe and effective medication to reduce HIV infection by up to 99% for those at risk. However, the rise in STIs highlights the importance of frequent testing among men using PrEP.

Associate Professor Edwina Wright, Head of The Victorian HIV PrEP Demonstration Project: the VicPrEP study and a Group Leader in the Department of Infectious Diseases was the Principal Investigator and co-senior author of the paper. 

“The findings are also important because they highlight the need to target our sexual health messaging about STI risks to a relatively small proportion of PrEP users to help reduce their STI rates. We need to address these findings by engaging in more research to prevent STIs including STI vaccines and antibiotics that may prevent STIs.”

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