Higher-risk groups should get greater access to HIV drugs, new guidelines say (Canadian HIV Trials Network)

Groups at higher risk of HIV infection should have access to a course of anti-retroviral medications before and after exposure to the virus, according to new national guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of the disease in Canada.

The guidelines, being published Monday in the CMAJ medical journal, are for health professionals who work with people at risk of acquiring the disease through sexual activity or injection drug use. They recommend doctors prescribe pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a course of anti-HIV drugs that begins before an exposure to the virus occurs, and nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis (nPEP), which involves taking anti-retroviral medications after a sexual or drug use-related exposure to HIV.

“There are a lot of people who can benefit from [PrEP and nPEP] across the country, and not nearly enough providers who can provide it to them,” said lead author Dr. Darrell Tan, an infectious diseases physician and researcher at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. The guidelines were developed by the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network with a panel of 24 experts.

Salmaan Farooqui reports

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