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What do we know about the effectiveness of PrEP, the preventive treatment for HIV?

DECRYPTIONIt is an acronym whose meaning we do not always know, but which can change destinies. In France, 20,000 people take PrEP, the preventive treatment that aims to avoid becoming infected with HIV. On the occasion of Sidaction, organized from Friday to Sunday, Europe 1 takes stock of what we know about this drug and its effectiveness, which has just been proven by a study.

“If you take it regularly, you are very well protected”

Available in France since 2016, PrEP can be taken in two different ways: either continuously – one capsule every day at the same time – or “on demand” – two tablets before risky intercourse, then two after . And according to a study called “Prevent”, carried out for three years, the drug fulfills its role.

Out of 3,000 participants, “there were only six cases of HIV infection”, underlines at the microphone of Europe 1 Professor Jean-Michel Molina, infectious disease specialist at Saint-Louis hospital. “The analogy we can make is that of the contraceptive pill: if you do not take your contraceptive pill, you risk pregnancy. It’s a bit the same with PrEP, if you take it regularly. , under the right conditions, you are very well protected. “

“I live it much better and I no longer have this stress”

This regularity is perfectly accepted by Antoine, 29, who takes his tablet every evening at dinner. “It happened to me from time to time to have unprotected sex, in return for the evening, when you are alcoholic and you do not really think, you forget the risks that you take”, testifies -il on Europe 1. “I had a stress that was quite long since I had to wait six weeks to do the tests and make sure I did not contract HIV. I started PrEP in March 2020, now I’m living it a lot better and I don’t have that stress anymore.

Let’s cut short any misconceptions: PrEP only protects against HIV and not against other STDs such as Chlamydia or Syphilis. And if it presents itself as one of the best ways to fight against the AIDS virus, it is in particular because the research for a vaccine has not yet succeeded. A team of American scientists has tested one well, operating on the same model as those currently being used against Covid-19, that is to say at ARN Messager. And its results are encouraging: 97% of participants made antibodies against HIV.

However, “many vaccines have been able to generate immune responses, but so far that has not been enough to be able to obtain prevention of infection”, underlines Jean-Michel Molina. “HIV is a virus which is much more variable, which mutates much more frequently than the coronavirus, which is very stable.” To support researchers in their work, it is therefore more than ever time to make a donation, by phone by calling 110, or by SMS by sending DONATION to 92110.

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