A new global study led by Monash University in Australia and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) users.
The systematic review and meta-analysis examined the burden of STIs among PrEP users in 26 low- and middle-income countries, using data from 88 studies. It showed 24 per cent of people initiating PrEP were diagnosed with either chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis before they started taking PrEP. The pooled incidence of the composite outcome of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and early syphilis was 72.2 (95% CI 60.5-86.2) per 100 person-years (PYs).
The authors say the findings highlight the need for active integration of HIV and STI services for an at-risk and underserved population. “High numbers of curable STIs are being missed, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. PrEP services can help prevent not just HIV but also STIs, and we should take advantage of this opportunity,” said co-author, Dr Rachel Baggaley from the WHO’s Department for HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
The research is published in JAMA Network Open.