France was the first country in Europe to allow, in 2016, the use of Truvada, an anti-HIV treatment to prevent the contamination of an HIV-negative person during risky sexual intercourse. This is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is currently the subject of a poster campaign by the Aides association. This measure was successfully implemented, but three years after the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM) was seized by the Aides association, and three and a half years after its American counterpart, the Food and Drug Administration, authorized it on 16 July 2012. Without this delay, several thousand contaminations could have been avoided.
According to a report by the Inspectorate-General of Social Affairs (IGAS) which Le Monde has obtained, this delay is mainly the result of an “abnormally long” investigation by the ANSM. The mission was mandated on 15 March 2017 by the then Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, and entrusted to two inspectors, Gilles Duhamel and Aquilino Morelle.
To understand the issues at stake, we must start from two key facts in the HIV infection epidemic. The first is the persistence, for several years in France, of more than 6,000 new infections per year, particularly among men who have sex with men. The second is the central role of condoms, “the main, if not the only, tool for HIV prevention,” the IGAS report says.
The report recalls that “contrary to a widespread idea, far from having an “effectiveness of 100%”, the condom only reaches rates of 80% among heterosexuals and 70% among “men who have sex with men”. This justifies broadening the range of prevention tools.