Oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been available and fully reimbursed for people at high risk of sexually acquired HIV infection in France since January 2016. Its dissemination has been widely promoted to reduce HIV incidence in high-risk populations. This study aimed to assess the roll-out of PrEP use in France from its implementation until mid-2021.
Using the French National Health Data System (SNDS) covering 99% of people residing in France, all PrEP users defined as individuals aged 15 years or older who received at least one dispensing of PrEP between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2021 were identified. PrEP users number and their socio-demographic and PrEP use characteristics were assessed over time.
As of 30 June 2021, a total of 42 159 individuals had initiated PrEP in France. Monthly PrEP initiations increased steadily up to 1027 in February 2020, and then slowed down sharply from the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic until a recovery in the first half of 2021. PrEP users were overwhelmingly men (97.5%, 41 126/42 159), aged 36 years on average, living in a large metropolitan area (73.8%, 31 096/42 159), and among whom a minority (7.0%, 2 966/42 159) were socio-economically disadvantaged. Throughout the study period, 80-90% of users renewed PrEP from one semester to another, suggesting a good level of maintenance among those engaged in treatment. Nevertheless, for 20.1% (7 148/35 549) of new PrEP users no prescription renewal was recorded in the first six months after initiation, suggesting a substantial proportion of early treatment discontinuation. Private practitioners accounted for a minority (21.3%, 77 885/366 399) of PrEP renewal prescriptions.
PrEP roll-out has been markedly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in France. Although PrEP deployment has been substantial among men who have sex with men, further action is needed to expand access to PrEP to all other population groups who could benefit from it and to promote adherence to treatment.
Find the article on the website of The Lancet Regional Health – Europe