In June, CSRH researchers published results from the Gay Community Periodic Surveys in the Lancet HIV journal showing the rapid uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by gay and bisexual men in Melbourne and Sydney, particularly between 2016 and 2017. The analysis also showed a decline in condom use by gay and bisexual men not using PrEP. This was the first large international study showing the community-level uptake and impact of PrEP.
The results were picked up by international media such as Science magazine, the New York Times and the Guardian. Not all of this coverage was helpful, and some was stigmatising, suggesting that PrEP was leading to ‘complacency’ about HIV or increasing sexually transmitted infections. This prompted Australian community organisations involved in the study to respond, noting that HIV infections had declined as PrEP rollout proceeded, and that condoms continued to be promoted to the community alongside PrEP and treatment as prevention (you can see ACON and AFAO’s response here).
The study’s lead author, Professor Martin Holt, also issued a statement, clarifying that the study team was supportive of the implementation of PrEP and believed it was having a positive impact, but that it was vital to maintain the promotion of a range of effective prevention strategies, and to engage those who were not consistently practising risk reduction. You can read the article at ScienceDirect.