One of the most memorable moments in my 20 years working in the HIV field happened in a standing-room-only meeting hall in Vienna at the International AIDS Conference in 2010. This was the moment that the clinical trial CAPRISA 004 announced proof-of-concept for prevention of HIV among women using a vaginal microbicide (1% tenofivir gel). The entire room broke out in a standing ovation and tears of joy. Finally! A prevention tool that could allow a woman to protect herself in sexual encounters, regardless of the desires and wishes of her sexual partner. Five years later, microbicides have not yet come to fruition. But pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) holds the same great promise.
Vancouver is in the limelight again. This year’s International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference may have marked a watershed moment in our HIV response, with some similarity to the 1996 Vancouver AIDS conference when highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) hit the world stage.
What do you call sex without a condom? Unprotected?
Only a few years ago, you might have been correct. But a growing consensus of HIV prevention experts is shifting away from this terminology to something more accurate and more simple: sex without a condom, or condomless sex.
Recent developments in prevention are pointing to worrying gaps in the community-based approach to HIV prevention in Canada.
Perhaps we have been used to having only a single prevention technology on our books for so long – think condoms – that our ducks are not always in a row when new ones like PrEP come along. Thus potholes in our response become apparent – and none leap in to fix them.
After a series of somewhat inconclusive PrEP trials, whose results were marred by adherence issues, the results of more stringent trials like the PROUD and IPERGAY studies are in, and they are good. So good, in fact, that it would now be foolish not to put PrEP right at the front of the shelf that features ways to stay HIV-negative.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.