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Study documents changing opinion among Italian doctors about PrEP
Gus Cairns, 2017-09-14 11:20:00

A survey of Italian infectious disease physicians working with HIV, conducted in 2015 but only published this July, reveals that at that time there was still considerable scepticism about HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The study data were collected in April and May 2015, two months after the results of the PROUD and IPERGAY studies were announced, but a year before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved PrEP.

At this point, the attitudes of the physicians polled – who form a substantial proportion of Italian doctors working with HIV – appeared to be in transition or even contradictory. While over half of them considered that health authorities had an ethical obligation to prescribe PrEP if needed, less than 30% thought it should be paid for by the national healthcare system. And while over 60% said that at least one of their patients had asked about PrEP, only a third said they were “familiar” with it.

In Italy, HIV treatment is conducted primarily by Infectious disease physicians in HIV care centres based in hospitals. At the time of the survey there were 153 HIV Care Centres in Italy altogether but the questionnaire was sent to doctors in 50 centres with more than 500 patients each. The mean number of patients in Italian HIV care centres was in fact at that time 624, with a small number of large centres (HIV patient numbers ranging from 17 to 6526). It was assumed at this time that PrEP would also be dispensed by experienced HIV physicians, an assumption 63% of survey respondents agreed with.