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Providing Free PrEP to MSM and Trans Individuals in a Community Setting

HIV risk perception and concern regarding HIV infection declined during the study.

A recent study conducted by investigators from Checkpoint BLN, in collaboration with Freie Universität Berlin, has found that providing free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy in a community setting can help to increase uptake in men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans individuals.

Results from the study were recently presented at this year’s 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science.

Due to the socio-economic differences in low-income MSM and trans individuals, the uptake of PrEP therapy can be impacted.

The investigators for this study sought to improve PrEP uptake in these populations by implementing what they called Prep500, which included free provision of PrEP, counselling and regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STI) in a community setting.

The study included 224 individuals, with 177 having at least 1 follow up STI examination and 160 answering a follow up questionnaire. The patients were followed regularly for 48 weeks and were examined for sociodemographic characteristics and current STI prevalence at baseline.

Findings from the study demonstrated that there were no HIV infections reported during the study period. However, 49% of the participants were diagnosed with at least one bacterial STI, including: 10 Syphilis infections, 72 chlamydial infections and 90 gonococcal infections.

Additionally, among the participants who were without current PrEP use at baseline, high-risk contacts were seen to decrease by 91%, while the number of sex partners and condomless intercourse did not increase.

“PREP500 demonstrated the feasibility of providing PrEP in a community setting in Germany. PREP500 helped increase PrEP uptake among low income MSM and trans individuals in Berlin before PrEP was covered by health insurance,” the authors wrote. “It was effective in targeting economically disadvantaged and other hard-to-reach MSM and trans individuals and in reducing HIV transmission risks.”