A new study conducted by UNSW’s Kirby Institute has found that gay and bisexual men taking the HIV prevention medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) have lower levels of HIV-related anxiety.
The study provides the strongest evidence yet that PrEP may be enhancing the mental health and wellbeing of gay and bisexual men, along with decreasing HIV infection rates in the community.
PrEP was made available in Australia through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in April 2018, and prevents a HIV-negative person from acquiring HIV when taken as directed.
The lead co-author of the paper, Phillip Keen, said that this research has important implications for the understanding of the benefits of PrEP.
“This new evidence suggests that another benefit of taking PrEP is improved mental health, through reduced anxiety about HIV”.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) noted that the research presented a “turning point” in our understanding of how the fear of HIV has influenced sexual relationships in gay and bisexual men.
“It has helped many gay men enjoy sex without being fearful of HIV [by being a] highly effective strategy to prevent HIV transmission”, said AFAO CEO, Adjunct Associate Profession Darryl O’Donnell.