Majority of Vancouver men remain unaware of HIV prevention drug, study finds

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      A BC Centre for Excellence study has found that approximately three-quarters of Vancouver men who have sex with men remain unaware of a proven-effective prevention method for HIV.

      The study, published in February in AIDS and Behavior, found that over 70 percent of gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men (MSM) don't know about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

      Only 20.9 percent of HIV–negative participants and 26.5 HIV–positive participants knew about PrEP.

      None of the participants in the study, conducted from February 2012 to February 2014) were using PrEP.

      "PrEP can be a tool for stopping the spread of HIV, alongside the scaling up treatment for those living with the disease under Treatment as Prevention," BC-CfE director Dr. Julio Montaner stated in a news release. "We have seen progress in reducing HIV viral load among Vancouver MSM, however there are remaining steps to close awareness gaps around HIV prevention. These include updating messaging to reflect options available, increasing access to PrEP and integrating it as part of a more comprehensive public health approach."

      In February, Health Canada approved Truvada, which can be used as a HIV PrEP drug, but the expensive price (almost $1,000 per month) may deter usage for those without a private insurance plan. The only Canadian province which offers provincial health coverage for Truvada is Quebec.