Towards the end of the twentieth century, significant success was achieved in reducing incidence in several global HIV epidemics through ongoing prevention strategies. However, further progress in risk reduction was uncertain. For one thing, it was clear that social vulnerability had to be addressed, through research on interventions addressing health systems and other structural barriers. As soon as antiretroviral treatment became available, researchers started to conceive that antiretrovirals might play a role in decreasing either susceptibility in uninfected people or infectiousness among people living with HIV. In this paper we focus on the origin, present status, and potential contribution of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) within the combination HIV prevention framework.
After a phase of controversy, PrEP efficacy trials took off. By 2015, daily oral PrEP, using tenofovir alone or in combination with emtricitabine, has been proven efficacious, though efficacy seems heavily contingent upon adherence to pill uptake. Initial demonstration projects after release of efficacy results have shown that PrEP can be implemented in real settings and adherence can be high, leading to high effectiveness. Despite its substantial potential, beliefs persist about unfeasibility in real-life settings due to stigma, cost, adherence, and potential risk compensation barriers.
The strategic synergy of behavioural change communication, biomedical strategies (including PrEP), and structural programmes is providing the basis for the combination HIV prevention framework. If PrEP is to ever become a key component of that framework, several negative beliefs must be confronted based on emerging evidence; moreover, research gaps regarding PrEP implementation must be filled, and appropriate prioritization strategies must be set up. Those challenges are significant, proportional to the impact that PrEP implementation may have in the global response to HIV.
HIV prevention; pre-exposure prophylaxis; public health; health policy; antiretrovirals
It is increasingly clear that the HIV response will not be sustainable if the number of infections is not significantly reduced.
For two decades, research has been ongoing to identify new behavioural and biomedical strategies to prevent HIV infection. In the past few years, the efficacy of several new strategies has been demonstrated, including oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP; i.e. daily use of tenofovir/emtricitabine). Because several social, political and logistic barriers remain, however, optimal PrEP implementation will require a better dissemination of new evidence in a number of areas and additional implementation research from various disciplinary perspectives (i.e. social science, policy and ethics; health systems; and economics, including cost-effectiveness studies). Discussion of new evidence on those topics, as well as case studies of potential PrEP implementation in diverse environments, can improve the understanding of the role that PrEP may play in addressing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In light of these needs, the Network for Multidisciplinary Studies in ARV-based HIV Prevention (NEMUS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were honoured to co-organize a special issue of JIAS aimed at contributing to a scholarly discussion of current conditions surrounding PrEP implementation, potential impact and efficiency, social science concerns and the study of PrEP implementation in specific country cases. The papers included in this monograph identify and cover many of the main aspects of the complex yet promising discussions around PrEP implementation today.
This is a collection of timely contributions from global leaders in HIV research and policy that addresses geographic diversity, uses a trans-disciplinary approach and covers a variety of the complex issues raised by PrEP. As this publication will become accessible to all, we hope that it will remain a valuable resource for policy makers, programme managers, researchers and activists around the world at a moment of a paradigm shift of the global response to HIV.
HIV; PrEP; key populations; scale-up; implementation science
Despite a number of programmes to prevent HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and, more generally, sexually diverse populations, gay and other homosexually active men continue to be at heightened risk of HIV and its consequences. This paper analyses some of the reasons for this situation and offers policy and programmatic recommendations to contribute to a solution. The social exclusion of MSM and transgender individuals is an overwhelming reality in the majority of countries worldwide. Although progress has been achieved in some countries, in most of the world the situation remains problematic. Present challenges to equality and to the realization of health, include the membership of groups or subcultures with high HIV prevalence, lower quality and coverage of services and programmes and the impact of higher-level influences such as laws, public policies, social norms and culture, which together configure an environment that is hostile to the integration and needs of certain groups. A social inclusion perspective on HIV prevention and AIDS-related care implies the adoption of strategies to understand and confront social vulnerability. Sexual exclusion intensifies the burden of HIV transmission and morbidity. As part of a comprehensive response there is an urgent need to: (i) improve our understanding of the characteristics and HIV burden among sexually diverse populations; (ii) creatively confront legal, social and cultural factors enhancing sexual exclusion; (iii) ensure the provision of broad-based and effective HIV prevention; (iv) offer adequate care and treatment; and (v) confront special challenges that characterize work with these populations in lower and middle-income countries.
care; HIV/AIDS; men who have sex with men; prevention; sexual minorities; social exclusion; transgender
The HIV epidemic in Peru is concentrated primarily among men who have sex with men. HIV interventions have focused exclusively on a narrowly defined group of MSM and FSW to the exclusion of other populations potentially at increased risk. Interventions targeting MSM and FSW are insufficient and there is evidence that focusing prevention efforts solely on these populations may ignore others that do not fall directly into these categories. This paper describes non-traditional, vulnerable populations within low-income neighborhoods. These populations were identified through the use of ethnographic and epidemiologic formative research methods and the results are reported in this publication. Although the traditional vulnerable groups are still in need of prevention efforts, this study provides evidence of previously unrecognized populations at increased risk that should also receive attention from HIV/STI prevention programs.
HIV epidemiology; MSM; Sexual behavior; Risk; Community intervention trial; Vulnerability
Detailed information on the sexual behavior of bisexual, non-gay identified men and the relationship between same-sex behavior and HIV/STI incidence are limited. This study provides information on the sexual behavior with male partners of non-gay identified men in urban, coastal Peru and the relationship of this behavior with HIV/STI incidence.
We analyzed data from 2146 non-gay identified men with a baseline and then two years of annual follow-up, including detailed information on sexual behavior with up to 5 sex partners, to determine characteristics associated with bisexual behavior. Discrete time proportional hazards models were used to determine the effect of self-reported sex with men on subsequent HIV/STI incidence.
Over the three study visits, sex with a man was reported by 18.9% of men, 90% of whom also reported sex with a female partner. At baseline, reported bisexual behavior was associated with other sexual risk behaviors such as exchanging sex for money and increased risk of HIV, HSV-2, and gonorrhea. The number of study visits in which recent sex with men was reported was positively correlated with risk of other sexual risk behaviors and incident HIV, HSV-2, and gonorrhea. Recent sex with a man was associated with increased HIV/STI incidence, HR 1.79 (95% CI 1.19 – 2.70), after adjusting for socio-demographics and other sexual risk behaviors.
Given the prevalence of recent sex with men and the relationship of this behavior with HIV/STI incidence, interventions with non-gay identified men who have sex with men and their partners are warranted.
Bisexual men; Men who have sex with men; sexual risk behavior; HIV/STI prevention; Peru
The right to health is recognized as a fundamental human right. Social participation is implied in the fulfillment of health rights since Alma Ata posited its relevance for successful health programs, although a wide range of interpretations has been observed for this term. While Peruvian law recognizes community and social participation in health, it was the GFATM requirement of mixed public-civil society participation in Country Coordination Mechanisms (CCM) for proposal submission what effectively led to formal community involvement in the national response to HIV and, to a lesser extent, tuberculosis. This has not been the case, however, for other chronic diseases in Peru. This study aims to describe and compare the role of health rights discourse and community involvement in the national response to HIV, tuberculosis and cancer.
Key health policy documents were identified and analyzed. In-depth interviews were conducted with stakeholders, representatives of civil society organizations (CSO), and leaders of organizations of people affected by HIV, cancer and tuberculosis.
Results and discussion
A health rights discourse, well established in the HIV field, is expanding to general health discussions and to the tuberculosis (TB) field in particular. Both HIV and TB programs have National Multisectoral Strategic Plans and recognize participation of affected communities’ organizations. Similar mechanisms are non-existent for cancer or other disease-focused programs, although other affected patients are starting some organization efforts. Interviewees agreed that reaching the achievements of HIV mobilization is difficult for other diseases, since the HIV response was modeled based on a global movement with strong networks and advocacy mechanisms, eventually succeeding in the establishment of financial sources like the GFATM. Nevertheless, organizations linked to cancer and other diseases are building a National Patient Network to defend health rights.
There are new efforts to promote and protect health rights in Peru, probably inspired by the achievements of organizations of people living with HIV (PLHA). The public health sector must consolidate the participation of affected communities’ organizations in decision-making processes and implementation of health programs. PLHA organizations have become a key political and social actor in Peruvian public health policy.
HIV; Public policy; Health rights; Community participation; Access to health care
In this paper we describe sex with men, including the frequency of sex and unprotected sex, among high-risk, heterosexually-identified men in urban, low-income, coastal Peru. During 2001–2002, a random community-based sample of these men was administered an epidemiologic survey collecting sexual risk behavior data. Among the 924 high-risk heterosexually-identified men, 131 (14.2%) reported at least one male partner in the past 6 months. Of these, 113 (86.3%) reported male and female partners and among those with partners of both sexes, 84.2% and 57.0% of sex acts with female and male partners, respectively, were unprotected, (RR 1.48, 95% CI = 1.31–1.68). We observed a high rate of recent bisexual behavior compared to past studies showing frequent, unprotected sex with male and female partners. This population has substantial potential to act as a bridge population between and their male and female partners and should be addressed by prevention programs.
Bisexual behavior; HIV bridge populations; MSM; condom use; Peru
Prior to implementing screening programs for acute HIV infection in developing countries, key issues including cost, feasibility, and public health impact must be determined. We compared fourth-generation enzyme immunoassay (EIA) with pooled HIV-1 RNA assays for the detection of acute and early HIV infection in counseling and testing populations in Lima, Peru.
Adults presenting for HIV testing at designated clinics in Lima-Callao, Peru were offered additional screening for acute HIV infection. All serum samples were tested with fourth-generation Ag/Ab EIA and confirmed by line immunoassay (LIA). Negative specimens were combined into 50-sample pools for HIV-1 RNA screening by PCR analysis in standard pooling algorithms. RNA-positive samples were re-tested with a third-generation EIA to evaluate the relative sensitivity of standard testing procedures.
Between 2007 and 2008 we recruited 1,191 participants. The prevalence of HIV infection was 3.2% (38/1191; 2.2-4.2%) overall and 10.6% (25/237; CI=6.6-14.5%) among men who reported sex with men (MSM). The prevalence of acute or recent HIV infection was 0.2% (CI=0-0.4%) overall and 0.8% (CI=0-2.0%) among MSM. Compared with third generation EIA testing, both fourth generation EIA and RNA PCR increased the rate of HIV case identification by 5.6% overall and by 8.0% within the subpopulation of MSM.
Screening for acute HIV infection within Peru's resource-limited public health system was acceptable and detected a high prevalence of acute and recent HIV infection among MSM. Additional efforts are needed to screen for and prevent transmission of HIV among MSM in Peru during the acute seroconversion stage.
Acute HIV Infection; Pooled RNA Testing; Peru: Men Who Have Sex with Men
To estimate Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infection prevalence and associated risk factors among a low-income marginalized urban population in Peru.
Between April 2003 and April 2005, men and women at high-risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were recruited from low-income urban areas in three coastal cities in Peru (Chiclayo, Lima, and Trujillo). Consenting participants were studied using a sero-epidemiologic survey. Urine and vaginal swabs collected from men and women were evaluated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (COBAS® AMPLICOR (CT/NG) Test, Roche Molecular Diagnostics, Branchburg, NJ, USA) for CT.
Among the 2 440 participants recruited for the study (2 145 men and 295 women), overall prevalence of CT infection was 6.6% (95% CI, 5.6–7.6%): 5.5% (95% CI, 4.5–6.5%) in men and 14.9% (95% CI, 11.7–27.1%) in women. Chlamydial infection was inversely associated with age and positively associated with HIV infection and dysuria in men. Among women, chlamydial infection was inversely associated with age and positively associated with number of sex partners.
CT infection was common among high-risk men and women in urban coastal Peru. Because chlamydial infection is associated with complications related to female reproduction, including infertility and ectopic pregnancy, interventions to prevent and treat infection and studies to determine the feasibility of population-based screening for CT should be conducted among the high-risk female population.
Chlamydia; sexually transmitted diseases; vulnerable populations; women; Peru
This study describes the complex dynamics of the sexual, economic and social interactions between a group of feminized homosexual men and men who have sex with men and self-identify as heterosexual (‘mostaceros’), in lower-income peripheral urban areas of Lima and Trujillo, Peru. The study examined sexual risk between these two groups of men, and the significance of the economic exchanges involved in their sexual interactions. Using a Grounded Theory approach, 23 individual interviews and 7 focus groups were analyzed. The results reveal that cultural, economic and gender factors mold sexual and social relations among a group of men who have sex with men in Peru. Compensated sex is part of the behaviors of these men, reflecting a complicated construction of sexuality based on traditional conceptions of gender roles, sexual identity and masculinity. Several factors (e.g. difficulty in negotiating condom use, low self-esteem, low risk perception, alcohol and drug consumption), in the context of compensated sex, play a role in risk-taking for HIV infection.
bisexual behavior; compensated sex; HIV sexual risk; men who have sex with men (MSM); sexual identity
The HIV epidemic in Peru is still regarded as concentrated - sentinel surveillance data shows greatest rates of infection in men who have sex with men, while much lower rates are found in female sex workers and still lower in the general population. Without an appropriate set of preventive interventions, continuing infections could present a challenge to the sustainability of the present programme of universal access to treatment. Determining how specific prevention and care strategies would impact on the health of Peruvians should be key in reshaping the national response.
HIV/AIDS prevalence levels for risk groups with sufficient sentinel survey data were estimated. Unit costs were calculated for a series of interventions against HIV/AIDS which were subsequently inputted into a model to assess their ability to reduce infection transmission rates. Interventions included: mass media, voluntary counselling and testing; peer counselling for female sex workers; peer counselling for men who have sex with men; peer education of youth in-school; condom provision; STI treatment; prevention of mother to child transmission; and highly active antiretroviral therapy. Impact was assessed by the ability to reduce rates of transmission and quantified in terms of cost per DALY averted.
Results of the analysis show that in Peru, the highest levels of HIV prevalence are found in men who have sex with men. Cost effectiveness varied greatly between interventions ranging from peer education of female commercial sex workers at $US 55 up to $US 5,928 (per DALY averted) for prevention of mother to child transmission.
The results of this work add evidence-based clarity as to which interventions warrant greatest consideration when planning an intervention response to HIV in Peru. Cost effectiveness analysis provides a necessary element of transparency when facing choices about priority setting, particularly when the country plans to amplify its response through new interventions partly funded by the GFATM.
Sexually active heterosexual men may represent an important risk factor for HIV infection and STI transmission to their female partners and unborn children, though little is known about the prevalence of STIs in this population. We sought to determine the prevalence of HIV, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and syphilis infection and associated risk behaviors among male sex partners of pregnant women in Peru.
Survey and seroprevalence data were collected from 1,835 male partners of pregnant women in four cities in Peru. Serum was tested for antibodies to HIV, HSV-2, and syphilis.
Among the 1,835 male participants, HIV prevalence was 0.8% (95% CI = 0.5–1.4%), HSV-2 16.0% (95% CI = 14.3–17.8%), and syphilis 1.6% (95% CI = 1.0–2.2%). Additionally, 11.0% reported a lifetime history of intercourse with men, and 37.1% with female sex workers. Unprotected intercourse with men during the previous year was reported by 0.9% and with female sex workers by 1.2%.
Pregnant women's sex partners reported lifetime sexual contact with core risk groups, had an elevated prevalence of HSV-2, and demonstrated the potential to spread HIV and other STIs to their partners. Though the prevalence of HIV in the population was not significantly higher than observed in other samples of heterosexuals in Peru, the risk of HIV transmission to their female partners may be exacerbated by their increased prevalence of HSV-2 infection. Further study of heterosexual populations is necessary to fully understand the epidemiology of HIV/STIs in Latin America.