An Australian Doctor Has Some Answers About PrEP User With HIV

Updated March 26 to clarify that Dr. Darren Russell is not Steven Spencer's personal doctor; he was a physician and PrEP/HIV expert brought in to advise on the case. No patient confidentiality has been violated.

As Plus previously reported, a news story surfaced last week of a 27-year-old Australian man, Steven Spencer (above left), who claimed he acquired HIV while practicing PrEP as an on-demand strategy. We shared thoughts and reactions to the sparse details available about this event, but later realized we wanted to know more facts. So, we reached out to Dr. Darren Russell (above right), clinical adviser for Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine. Dr. Russell consulted and advised on Spencer's specific case, and agreed to share previously unmentioned facts that have not been reported elsewhere. Here's what we've uncovered. 

How did you get involved in Steven’s case? 
I am a member of the team that is currently reviewing Australia’s PrEP Guidelines. They were first published in July 2017 and were then reviewed last year. Now we are rewriting them to include newer information. The Australian Guidelines were a very important part of helping the process of getting the Australian Government to reimburse PrEP on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on 1 April 2018 — this has made PrEP available to all Australians at an affordable price. When community-based organizations heard of Steven’s case they worked to support him but also realized that there would be media attention and so they reached out to the scientific and clinician communities to help produce the best result possible in terms of disseminating accurate information. We had a teleconference to discuss some of the complex issues involved and have continued discussions since. Read more via plus