Philippines: PrEP trial launched in Philippines as HIV rates expected to rocket 140%

The Philippines has kicked off a pilot project offering anti-HIV drugs to gays and transgender women as new infection rates in the country buck global trends and hit a record high.

Under the project, 200 HIV-negative gay men and transgender women will be given a daily pill known as PrEP that is designed to protect the body pre-exposure, rather than after HIV spreads.

The study will run for two years and is the latest attempt by the Philippines to cut its rising incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to AIDS, as rates fall in other parts of the world.

"This is the first time PrEP is being offered in the Philippines, this is very exciting," said Danvic Rosadino from Love Yourself, an LGBT group involved in the project.

"With the continued rise in new HIV cases, this is really timely and relevant. All interventions regarding HIV preventions should be made available in the Philippines," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Manila.

PrEP can drastically reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV, and is available in a number of countries to at-risk groups including men who have sex with men, sex workers and people in serodiscordant relationships. Despite being backed by WHO and other health bodies, global provision remains patchy.

So far, it has been approved for use by medical bodies in the United States and the European Union, as well as in Norway, Australia, Israel, Canada, Kenya, South Africa and Taiwan. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation