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HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and Health and Community Systems in the Global South: Thailand Case Study

Publication year: 
Author (s): 
Colby, Donn [et al.]
Corporate author: 
Publication details: 
Geneva, IAS, 2015
Publication in: 
Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015, 18(Suppl 3):19953

Introduction: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is recommended by the World Health Organization as an effective method of HIV prevention for individuals at risk for infection. In this paper, we describe the unique role that Thailand has played in the global effort to combat the HIV epidemic, including its role in proving the efficacy of PrEP, and discuss the opportunities and challenges of implementing PrEP in a middle-income country.

Discussion: Thailand was one of the first countries in the world to successfully reverse a generalized HIV epidemic. Despite this early success, HIV prevalence has remained high among people who inject drugs and has surged among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). Two pivotal trials that showed that the use of oral antiretroviral medication as PrEP can reduce HIV transmission were conducted partially or entirely at Thai sites. Demonstration projects of PrEP, as well as clinical trials of alternative PrEP regimens, began or will begin in 20142015 in Thailand and will provide additional data and experience on how to best implement PrEP for high-risk individuals in the community. Financing of drug costs, the need for routine laboratory monitoring and lack of awareness about PrEP among at-risk groups all present challenges to the wider
implementation of PrEP for HIV prevention in Thailand.

Conclusions: Although significant challenges to wider use remain, PrEP holds promise as a safe and highly effective method to be used as part of a combined HIV prevention strategy for MSM and TGW in Thailand.