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What Makes a Biomedical Implant a Desirable Way to Administer PrEP?


Ariane van der Straten, PhD, MPH, Senior Fellow, Women’s Global Health Imperative Program Director, RTI International, USA, explains the different attributes of administering pre-exposure prophylaxis via a HIV biomedical implant.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“I think it has a lot of potential attributes that would make it very desirable for the end user. First of all, it is gender-neutral; it can be used by men, women, or transgender people because it is not required to be topically applied in the vagina or the rectum. It also would prevent from all modes of exposure to HIV, whether through vaginal, rectal, or parenteral exposure, and so that makes it a prevention method that everyone could use. The other reason why I think it would be a very desirable method is because it is very discreet, actually, it is invisible. We have heard from end-users and participants in trials from the beginning that they had concerns around stigmas of preventing HIV and so a very discreet method would be favorably viewed.

It is a provider-administered method, which means that the user does not have to do anything to be adherent. One of the main reasons why a lot of prevention methods have failed so far, including oral PrEP in certain cases, is because people were not taking the product. They forget to take it, they do not want to take it, they change their mind, but mostly it is because [they forget to take it]. Once you have the implant administered by the provider, you will be protected for the whole time that it delivers the drug.

The final important aspect is duration. People do not want to be burdened by having to remember to come to the clinic every month or to be taking a pill every day. An implant would provide protection for 3 to 6 months, or perhaps even 1 year. That would be a significant advantage, both at an individual level and at a population level for curbing the epidemic.”
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