Over one hundred implementation studies of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are completed, underway or planned. We synthesized evidence from these studies to inform mathematical modelling of the prevention cascade for oral and long-acting PrEP in the setting of western Kenya, one of the world's most heavily HIV-affected regions.
We incorporated steps of the PrEP prevention cascade - uptake, adherence, retention and re-engagement after discontinuation - into EMOD-HIV, an open-source transmission model calibrated to the demography and HIV epidemic patterns of western Kenya. Early PrEP implementation research from East Africa was used to parameterize prevention cascades for oral PrEP as currently implemented, delivery innovations for oral PrEP, and future long-acting PrEP. We compared infections averted by PrEP at the population level for different cascade assumptions and sub-populations on PrEP. Analyses were conducted over the 2020 to 2040 time horizon, with additional sensitivity analyses for the time horizon of analysis and the time when long-acting PrEP becomes available.
Implementation challenges along the prevention cascade compound to diminish the population-level impact of oral PrEP. Long-acting PrEP is expected to be less impacted by user uptake and adherence, but it is instead dependent on product availability in the short term and retention in the long term. To maximize the impact of long-acting PrEP, ensuring timely product approval and rollout is critical. Research is needed on strategies to improve retention and patterns of PrEP re-initiation.
The maximum impact of oral PrEP diminished by over 98% across all prevention cascades, with the exception of long-acting PrEP under optimistic assumptions about uptake and re-engagement after discontinuation. Long-acting PrEP had the highest population-level impact, even after accounting for possible delays in product availability, primarily because its effectiveness does not depend on drug adherence. Retention was the most significant cascade step reducing the potential impact of long-acting PrEP. These results were robust to assumptions about the sub-populations receiving PrEP, but were highly influenced by assumptions about re-initiation of PrEP after discontinuation, about which evidence was sparse.
Bershteyn A, Sharma M, Akullian AN, Peebles K, Sarkar S, Braithwaite RS, Mudimu E. (2020). Impact along the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis "cascade of prevention" in western Kenya: a mathematical modelling study. Journal of the International AIDS Society, (23 Suppl 3)