News / Vancouver

Few men in Vancouver aware of HIV prevention drug: Survey

Fewer than 30 per cent of people surveyed by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS are aware of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.

Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada are shown at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California.

Getty Images

Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada are shown at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California.

Few gay and bisexual men in Vancouver are aware of a new preventative HIV drug and even fewer can afford to access it, according to a new study.

On Thursday, The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS published the results of a survey of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Vancouver and found that only 20.9 per cent of HIV-negative men and 26.5 per cent of HIV-positive men know about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the virus.

The treatment has proven to be an effective prevention tool, according to the centre, and the drug Truvada got Health Canada approval last month and is now available to the public.

Even among the participants who know about PrEP, only a third had discussed it with friends or partners within the last six months.

None of the people enrolled in the study had used or were using PrEP.

The BC-CfE believes part of the lack of awareness comes down to the drug’s restricted cost.

Treatment can cost up to $1,000 a month and is currently only publicly covered by Quebec, so Vancouverites can only access the Truvada through private drug plans.

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men account for approximately half of new HIV infections in Canada, and a third of all new AIDS cases.

The survey results, as part of the BC-CfE’s Momentum Study, were published in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

Metro Savers