BACKGROUND: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective in preventing HIV and has the potential to significantly impact the HIV epidemic. Given limited resources for HIV prevention, identifying PrEP provision strategies that maximize impact is critical.
METHODS: We used a stochastic individual-based network model to evaluate the direct (infections prevented among PrEP users) and indirect (infections prevented among non-PrEP users as a result of PrEP) benefits of PrEP, the person-years of PrEP required to prevent one HIV infection, and the community-level impact of providing PrEP to populations defined by gender and age in western Kenya and South Africa. We examined sensitivity of results to scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) by comparing two scenarios: maintaining current coverage ("status quo") and rapid scale-up to meet programmatic targets ("fast-track").
RESULTS: The community-level impact of PrEP was greatest among women aged 15-24 due to high incidence, while PrEP use among men aged 15-24 yielded the highest proportion of indirect infections prevented in the community. These indirect infections prevented continue to increase over time (western Kenya: 0.4-5.5 (status quo); 0.4-4.9 (fast-track); South Africa: 0.5-1.8 (status quo); 0.5-3.0 (fast-track)) relative to direct infections prevented among PrEP users. The number of person-years of PrEP needed to prevent one HIV infection was lower (59 western Kenya and 69 in South Africa in the status quo scenario; 201 western Kenya and 87 in South Africa in the fast-track scenario) when PrEP was provided only to women compared with only to men over time horizons of up to 5 years, as the indirect benefits of providing PrEP to men accrue in later years.
CONCLUSIONS: Providing PrEP to women aged 15-24 prevents the greatest number of HIV infections per person-year of PrEP, but PrEP provision for young men also provides indirect benefits to women and to the community overall. This finding supports existing policies that prioritize PrEP use for young women, while also illuminating the community-level benefits of PrEP availability for men when resources permit.
Bibliographical noteCopyright: © 2020 Mudimu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.