“This is good news that comes at the right time at a time when confinement and the Covid-19 pandemic have altered the offer of care, and changed behavior“, affirms Tuesday June 1 on franceinfo Pascal Pugliese, doctor at the University Hospital of Nice and president of the French Society for the fight against AIDS, while all doctors are authorized, from Tuesday, to initiate preventive treatment PrEP |Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis] against HIV.
franceinfo: Do you think this is good news in the fight against HIV?
Pascal Pugliese: That’s very good news. This will make it possible to offer PrEP to people who are exposed to HIV and who do not come for specialized care, and therefore to increase the number of people who will be able to benefit from a prevention strategy, which has effectively shown all its effectiveness for five years now, that we use it in real life. It is a decision that was made about two years ago. We had to have a regulatory reflection, since these are drugs that are normally reserved for medical specialists. So, we had to find the key, and then also create a training platform to support general practitioners in the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis. This is good news that comes at the right time in a period when confinement and the Covid pandemic have altered the offer of care, and changed behavior.
Has the pandemic had a more global impact on HIV testing generally?
Health insurance figures clearly show a brake on screening, the offer of care has been altered. There are also prevention actors who were unable to go and do what is called ‘going to’, that is to say going to the most vulnerable groups to do tests, because barriers and necessary distancing measures. There has been an increase in pre-exposure prophylaxis over the past four years, with a break last year, especially in initiations of PrEP. So the prescription in town will help to relaunch a this prescription. In France, it is still roughly between 6,000 and 7,000 new contaminations per year. Currently, we know that we have all the tools to put an end to the epidemic. National sexual health strategy is to achieve zero new contamination by 2030. And we have several prevention strategies, called combined prevention. It is to repeat the screening test, put all the HIV-positive people on treatment, and that, I think we are getting there n in France, since when you are on treatment and with a viral load called undetectable, you do not transmit the virus to your partner (s). And then it’s pre-exposure prophylaxis that gives drugs to people who are HIV negative and who are exposed to the HIV virus.
Doesn’t taking PrEP mean that we do without condoms?
PrEP only protects against HIV, there are other sexually transmitted infections that a condom can prevent. People who are monitored on PrEP are seen every three or four months by their doctor. We will screen the effectiveness of the treatment and the collection of screening for other sexually transmitted infections that we will be able to treat. And then there is also a vaccination offer since there are vaccinations against hepatitis B, hepatitis A or papillomavirus which are necessary for the overall sexual health of all people. People engaged in PrEP engage in a sexual health offering for their well-being and sexual health.