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YOUNG WOMEN PERSIST TO USE PREP - POWER

Madrid, Oct. 26 --- Desmond HIV Foundation POWER study shows that about half of young women starting Prep discontinue within a month.

Elzette Resousseau Jemwa revealed this at the HIVR4P conference in Madrid. She added that POWER is a Prep implementation science project aiming to test scalable models of Prep delivery for young women, ages 16 to 25 in South Africa and Kenya.

She noted that the objective is to understand adolescent girls and young women's uptake and patterns of Prep use when delivered from real world settings.

However, she indicated that better persistence is observed in young women who can take Prep beyond one month, showing results of 48 percent and 40 percent persistence of those retained at month three and five follow-ups.

She pointed out that reasons listed for declining Prep continuation at follow-up was principally no perceived risk at that time, followed by product related reasons and to a smaller extent social concerns of stigma or partner and parents' disapproval of Prep use.

Jemwa further highlighted that about one in five young women who discontinue use restart Prep within three months. She added that while it is unclear how well Prep persistence aligns with young women's real need for Prep at this point, this shows that young women are starting to fit Prep into their lives and adopting patterns of Prep use.

She noted that this is early results as they are in the first year of three-year study. She stated that ongoing work in POWER is continuing to explore Prep persistence as Prep becomes more known in communities.

She disclosed that to date just over 1000 young women have enrolled in the POWER study with 89 percent of this cohort starting Prep on the same day. Women enrolling in POWER had characteristics suggesting high HIV risk, including STI prevalence of 31 percent at enrolment, high unknown partner HIV status, and low condom use.

In its scientific presentations, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) at the HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) conference showed promising early-stage clinical findings that advance the development of DNA vaccines to prevent HIV infection. 

While traditional viral vector vaccines involve weakened or killed forms of whole pathogens or specific protein components that generate antibody and T-cell responses, DNA vaccines aim to deliver a small circular piece of DNA containing genes encoding pathogen antigens directly to cells.

The body’s cells use this DNA to produce the antigens that trigger immune responses. Thus far, no DNA vaccines have been approved for human use in the United States. Two presentations at HIVR4P indicated that candidate HIV DNA vaccines can elicit strong anti-HIV immune responses in clinical trial participants.

HIVR4P is the world's first and only international scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention research.

HIVR4P is a biannual event which is now expected to be held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2020.

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