ITM launches study on a preventative drug for HIV


Antwerp’s Institute for Tropical Medicine is launching Flanders’ first study on the use of a drug that prevents HIV infection

200 men needed

The Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp is has launched the Be-PrEP-ared study, the first Flemish research project on the applicability of preventative HIV medication. The researchers hope that the study, which focuses on gay men, can help to reduce the high number of new HIV infections among the target group.

PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a pill with HIV inhibitors meant for temporary use by people who don’t have HIV but are at a high risk of infection. The project will examine if gay men are willing to use PrEP, how conscientiously the pills are taken, how the use of PrEP is experienced and whether the use of condoms is altered.

“PrEP is a promising medication, but the consequences have to be examined closely before the strategy can be introduced in our country,” said professor Marie Laga, co-ordinator of Be-PrEP-ared.

Every day, there are three new HIV diagnoses in Belgium, mainly among gay men and residents with origins in Sub-Saharan Africa. Among Belgian men, more than 80% of new infections are transmitted via sexual contact.

Two hundred men are needed for the ITM study and can apply for consideration to be part of the study until 24 September. The study is being carried out with support of the Flemish government’s Agency for Innovation in Science and Technology  and in collaboration with relevant partners such as sexual health centre Sensoa and LGBT rights organisation Cavaria.

Photo: An HIV-infected cell
Photo courtesy NIAID / Flickr

Institute of Tropical Medicine

The Antwerp-based ITM is one of the world’s leading tropic health institutes. This government-funded centre focuses on tropical medicine research and on health care in developing countries.
History - The School of Tropical Medicine, the institute’s forerunner, was established by King Leopold II to respond to health issues in the then Free State of Congo.
Standby - The institute offers 24/7 guidance to medical practitioners who are treating patients with tropical diseases.
Vaccines - Among ordinary Flemings, the centre is best known for the medical services it provides to travellers, such as vaccinations, medical consultations and travel advice.

staff members

1 906

institute was founded

30 000

medical consultations per year