January 20, 2010
Research indicates that postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) with antiretroviral drugs after sexual exposure reduces considerably the risk of HIV infection. Since 1998, Denmark has made PEP available within 24 hours of sexual exposure; however, it can be prescribed only at clinical centers by HIV treatment specialists. The current study sought to describe the use of PEP after sexual exposure from 1998 to 2006.
Using a structured questionnaire, the Danish PEP registry collects data on all cases of PEP use in Denmark. During the study period, there were 374 cases in which PEP was used after sexual exposure to HIV. These cases increased from five in 1997 to 87 in 2006. In 40 percent of cases, the patients were heterosexuals; in 57 percent, the patients were men who have sex with men. In 41 percent of cases, the HIV status of the source individual was unknown; in 90 percent of these cases, the source was a member of a high-risk group. Receptive anal intercourse was involved in 63 percent of cases. The median time to treatment initiation was 11.0 hours (range: 0.5-60.0), and in 95 percent of cases PEP was administered within 24 hours (N=225). Sixty-five percent of patients completed the treatment course.
"This nationwide study showed a steady but moderate increase in the use of PEP after sexual HIV exposure from 1998 to 2006," the authors concluded. "Time to initiation of PEP was low and the PEP prescription practice was targeted toward high-risk exposures."