Doctors predict that PrEP will reduce HIV infections

Sermo poll of 2,672 doctors from around the world explores perspectives on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention

Sermo, the leading global social media network exclusively for doctors, announced today that 74 percent of doctors from around the world believe that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be effective in reducing the number of HIV infections worldwide (poll of 2,672 doctors). A poll of 1,249 doctors found that 86 percent would share information about PrEP with their patients and 91 percent would recommend PrEP to an at-risk individual. Truvada is the only medication approved for PrEP in the United States. In addition to PrEP, the global Sermo poll also asked doctors when they think we will have a cure for HIV/AIDS. Sixty percent of the doctors thought that a cure would come in the next fifteen years.

The results of the polls come just days after the CDC issued a report that estimated that 1.2 million people should be taking PrEP – 25 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual adult men, nearly 20 percent of adults who inject drugs, and less than 1 percent of heterosexually active adults.

“Multiple studies have shown that taking Truvada for PrEP works,” said Dr. James Wilson, an American Sermo member and Ascel Bio infectious disease forecaster based out of the University of Nevada-Reno. “The hard part is getting it to the patients who need it most and getting those patients to adhere to their medication regimens.”

Although the vast majority of the doctors said that PrEP will reduce HIV infections and they would recommend it to patients, some doctors said there are both pros and cons to the therapy. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed in a poll of 1,249 doctors said they think that PrEP will lead more people to be less careful when they are sexually active.

One geriatrician from the UK said, “I feel like there are a group of people that will benefit from PrEP but the feeling is that in the gay community it’s become a means of making promiscuous behavior easier. Those with sex addictions will certainly benefit and I can see this as a population we can protect. It does however seem that people forget that other STIs are not protected against and I wonder if we will see a rise in demand for treatment for these. Also reckless unsafe sex can go in hand with other reckless behaviour and psychological issues which I feel we may be missing on dealing with.”

Another doctor, a surgeon from the US, worried that the patients who need it might not take it and expressed fears that the virus will be around for a long time.

He said, “The people who would need this aren’t the greatest planners and risk reducers. HIV treatment is an area that has suffered from its own success, so many with the diagnosis are living so long, with so few sequelae, that there is no motivation among the target population to reduce risk. Incidence of syphilis and gonorrhea are soaring, and with drug resistant HIV and TB out there, this epidemic is going to show a multimodal resurgence.”

A family physician noted that there are financial barriers that prevent the therapy from being effective in reducing instances of HIV as well.

She said, “It is unaffordable in Africa where there is still an HIV epidemic.”

San Francisco has taken bold steps to overcome the cost hurdle, offering Truvada at no cost for at risk people who do not have insurance. In the Sermo poll, 75 percent of 1,249 doctors believed that other cities and states should offer similar programs.

Summary of Poll Results:

  • 74% think PrEP will be effective in reducing the number of HIV infections
  • 59% think PrEP will lead more people to be less careful when they are sexually active
  • 86% would share information about PrEP with their patients
  • 91% would recommend PrEP to an at risk individual
  • 75% think that cities and states should follow San Francisco’s example of taking steps to offer PrEP to at risk patients free of charge
  • 12% think that we’ll have a cure in 5 years; 32% think that we’ll have a cure for HIV/AIDS will come in 10 years; 16% think that we’ll have a cure for HIV/AIDS in 15 years; 18% think that we’ll have a cure for HIV/AIDS in 20 years; 5% think we’ll have a cure for HIV/AIDS in 25 years; and 17% think we’ll have a cure for HIV/AIDS in more than 30 years.

About Sermo

Sermo is the leading social network for physicians – the virtual doctors’ lounge and the home of medical crowdsourcing – where doctors anonymously share their true feelings about their profession and lives and talk ‘real world’ medicine. Sermo has more than 500,000 fully verified and licensed members and is now available for doctors in fifteen countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US. Founded in the US in 2005, Sermo’s mission is to revolutionize real world medicine and to unite physicians, providing them with a safe, private and trusted platform for free and open discussions. Sermo harnesses the collective wisdom of doctors, enabling medical crowdsourcing, knowledge sharing and thus the advancement of medicine.

Sermo is also the world’s largest healthcare professional polling and survey company with 1.6 million healthcare professional members in both the social network and a digital research network, spanning 80 countries. Sermo conducts 700,000 surveys a year.

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Media Contacts:
Randi Kahn, Public Relations Manager, Sermo
o: +1.212.358.0800 x967
m: +1.631.697.8310

Cassidy Lawson, Racepoint Global

Osnat Benshoshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sermo