It has been revealed today that a person on the Victorian PrEPX study has seroconverted and become HIV positive.
Despite this unfortunate case, it is important to note that currently there are over 100,000 individuals who are taking PrEP globally as a way to protect themselves against HIV acquisition and the vast majority of these people in Australia and around the world continue to be protected by this powerful HIV prevention tool. No prevention tool is 100% infallible, including condoms, and PrEP remains approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a highly effective HIV prevention strategy.
There are two ways that may have led to this seroconversion while on PrEP:
1. If a person is not adherent to their PrEP regimen (taking the prescribed dose regularly), it is possible that they would not be protected against acquiring HIV;
2. If a person comes into sexual contact with a person living with HIV who has a detectable viral load together with a strain of the virus that is resistant to PrEP medication, it is possible (although, extremely rare) that they might acquire that viral strain of HIV.
Globally, there have only been two verified cases of PrEP failure due to resistant HIV and neither of these resulted in more than a single isolated case of transmission.
This particular Victorian case continues to be investigated.
It is important that gay men and all people at risk of HIV acquisition consider and decide on the best way to protect themselves from the range of safe sex options available to them.
If you’re HIV negative; taking PrEP daily, getting tested regularly and/or using condoms are all great ways to significantly reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and will give you peace of mind, while having a fulfilling and enjoyable sex life.