PrEP is coming to France

Earlier this afternoon the rather exciting news broke that beginning in December Truvada will be approved for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV in France. France’s Minister for Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, made the announcement that her country will become the second in the world (after the US) to approve Truvada for this use, and the first to provide it free of cost.

With news of announcement only a few hours old, the details of the plan aren’t yet clear. The Libération article linked above refers to PrEP being available “under certain conditions” from specialists at hospitals and testing sites. Only individuals considered to be at high risk of contracting HIV (e.g. gay and bisexual men with multiple partners who report not using condoms consistently) will be able to access it, at least initially.

Interestingly it appears that PrEP will be available either as a daily pill (the approved regimen in the US) or for use following the “on demand” regimen tested in the French IPERGAY study. Since the French state will be bearing the cost of the medication, allowing the use of an on-demand regimen is particularly appealing in terms of cost savings.

It will be interesting to see if this provides a prod to the NHS, which is in the midst of its own decision making process about how and when to make PrEP available in the UK. Likewise I hope it will encourage Irish authorities who are beginning to develop guidelines for the use of anti-retrovirals for prevention to act swiftly and decisively.

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