Objective: Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) reduced HIV acquisition in the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men and transgender women. Self-reported sexual risk behavior decreased overall, but may be affected by reporting bias. We evaluated potential risk compensation using biomarkers of sexual risk behavior.
Design and methods: Sexual practices were assessed at baseline and quarterly thereafter; perceived treatment assignment and PrEP efficacy beliefs were assessed at 12 weeks. Among participants with ≥1 follow-up behavioral assessment, sexual behavior, syphilis, and HIV infection were compared by perceived treatment assignment, actual treatment assignment, and perceived PrEP efficacy.
Results: Overall, acute HIV infection and syphilis decreased during follow-up. Compared with participants believing they were receiving placebo, participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF reported more receptive anal intercourse partners prior to initiating drug (12.8 vs. 7.7, P = 0.04). Belief in receiving FTC/TDF was not associated with an increase in receptive anal intercourse with no condom (ncRAI) from baseline through follow-up (risk ratio [RR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6-1.4; P = 0.75), nor with a decrease after stopping study drug (RR 0.8, 95% CI: 0.5-1.3; P = 0.46). In the placebo arm, there were trends toward lower HIV incidence among participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4-1.8; P = 0.26) and also believing it was highly effective (IRR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.1-1.7; P = 0.12).
Conclusions: There was no evidence of sexual risk compensation in iPrEx. Participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF had more partners prior to initiating drug, suggesting that risk behavior was not a consequence of PrEP use.