Associate Professor Stoové presents the finding at Burnet's office in Myanmar.
Burnet Institute research has revealed that if preventive HIV medication were available in Myanmar, a large proportion of at-risk HIV-negative men would be willing to take it.
Institute researchers completed a study looking at pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) preparedness among the men who have sex with men (MSM) community in Yangon and Mandalay.
Research shows PrEP is 100 per cent effective in preventing people from acquiring HIV when taken appropriately. It requires people to attend services on a three-monthly basis for HIV testing and clinical monitoring.
Burnet Institute Head of HIV Research in the Centre for Population Health, Associate Professor Mark Stoové presented his report’s findings to Burnet staff, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS and other NGOs in Myanmar.
“We found 39 per cent of men were willing to use PrEP if it were available however the cost, under one US dollar a day, was prohibitive. If PrEP was provided without out-of-pocket expenses, willingness to use it among MSM in Myanmar would be much higher,” he said.
Associate Professor Stoové said another thing that emerged from the study were the preferences of MSM about where they are comfortable seeking HIV-related care.
“Overwhelmingly, this community want to seek care through NGOs, particularly ones that involve peers in service delivery. The co-location of other prevention services such as condom distribution and education, make these services ideal for PrEP implementation. Ultimately, you wouldn’t want to administer PrEP through government systems or hospitals,” he explained.
“Preferences partly relate to stigma and discrimination experienced in the health system. Sex between men is still illegal in Myanmar, so they want to go to places they perceive as save environments.”
The general feeling of participants at Associate Professor Stoové’s presentation was that Myanmar was still some way off implementing PrEP.
“It’s a country where only 60 per cent of people living with HIV can access treatment, WHO describe universal access to treatment as minimum 80 per cent coverage,” he said.
“It’s a heavily resource-constrained setting and there isn’t the capacity to deliver PrEP appropriately.”
The HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis preparedness among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Myanmar report will be available on the Burnet Institute website in early 2016.