Background Since 1 June 2017, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could be prescribed and reimbursed in Belgium as prophylactic medication for people who are at increased risk of HIV acquisition. The aim of this study was to determine the uptake of daily and event-driven PrEP in Belgium during the first 9 months of roll-out.
Methods: Routine aggregated data on the number of reimbursement requests and the number of boxes of Truvada (Gilead Sciences, Cambridge, UK) delivered for PrEP through the Belgian pharmacies were obtained from the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance. We also collected aggregated data from seven Aids Reference Centres (ARCs) currently providing most of the PrEP care in Belgium.
Results: From 1 June 2017 to 28 February 2018, 1352 requests for reimbursement were approved by the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance. Almost 98% of those who bought at least one box of 30 tablets of emtricitabine 200mg/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300mg (FTC/TDF) in a Belgian pharmacy were male, and most (67%) were between 30 and 50 years of age. According to data obtained from ARCs, the proportion of those choosing event-driven PrEP initially ranged between 29% and 73%.
Conclusions: The uptake of PrEP in Belgium since the start of the roll-out in June 2017 has been high, and almost entirely limited to men who have sex with men, of whom 43% initially prefer a non-daily regimen. A better understanding is needed as to why other populations, such as sub-Saharan African migrants, are not accessing PrEP, as well as the development of a more sustainable PrEP delivery model.