Contrary to expectation, a study of PrEP users found that during the course of treatment, participants became less sexually compulsive and used less drugs (excluding alcohol). Researchers undertook the AmPrEP study with clients of one of Amsterdam’s largest STI clinics.
NAM Aidsmap reports that the study also showed a significant decrease in some indicators of mental distress in PrEP users.
Researchers initially undertook the AmPrEP study because of fears that PrEP users might increase their drug use and become more sexually compulsive.
Participants in the study answered questions about their mental health, alcohol and other drug use and sexual compulsion. Specific questions addressed alcohol and drug use in relation to anxiety about acquiring HIV.
Participants filled out questionnaires when they joined the study and then annually for up to three years.
The results of the study indicated that while depression and anxiety did not decrease, anxiety related to HIV decreased significantly.
Also, problematic drug use (excluding alcohol) decreased significantly and sexual compulsion decreased very significantly. Although the drinking of participants remained problematic, the amount they drank did decline. The use of poppers and ecstasy also declined though not that of other drugs.
Daily PrEP users vs event-driven
The study allowed participants a choice between either daily or event-driven PrEP regimens. Outcomes from users of the two regimens remained consistent.
At the beginning of the study, researchers assessed 20% of participants as suffering a depressive or anxiety disorder. 38% had problematic drug use, 28% problematic drinking, and 23% a degree of sexual compulsivity.
After using PrEP, 18% still suffered depression or anxiety up to three years later. Problematic drinking remained an issue for 22%.
However, problematic drug use declined from 38% to 31%. Sexual compulsion decreased even more significantly from 23% to only 10%.
PrEP users also became less concerned about acquiring HIV over the course of the study.
For more information about PrEP check out the ComePrepd Campaign.
AMPrEP received funding as part of the H-team initiative from ZonMw, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and GGD research funds. The study drug was provided by Gilead Sciences. The H-TEAM initiative is supported by the Aidsfonds Netherlands, Stichting Amsterdam Dinner Foundation, Gilead Sciences Europe Ltd, Gilead Sciences, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, M.A.C. AIDS Fund, and ViiV Healthcare. Some of the researchers also disclosed previous grants and speaking fees from Gilead and other pharmaceutical companies.