Results from the iPrEx study show no link between taking Truvada (emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate; Gilead) for oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and experiencing depression. Findings from the study are published in AIDS and Behavior

Earlier studies had suggested an association between certain antiretroviral therapies and depression. The iPrEx study was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of daily oral PrEP in men and transgender women who have sex with men. Researchers sought to determine whether there was a link between Truvada and depression. There was no difference found in depression or suicidality between subjects who received Truvada or placebo, as seen on depression and suicidal ideation scale scores. 

In addition, there was no difference seen in the number of depression-related adverse events between two study arms, and no evidence that PrEP was less effective in subjects with depression. 

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Half of all subjects in the iPrEx study, however, reported depression scores higher than the threshold for clinically significant depression. Rates of depression are generally substantially higher among gay men and transgender women who have sex with men. 

The added protection from PrEP in these patient popualtions during episodes of depression could “avert infections during these especially vulnerable times,” researchers concluded. 

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