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News in the Prevention of HIV

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on July 23, 2012 at 10:54 am

Update 5/29/2014: On May 14, 2014, the US Public Health Service released the first HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) guidelines, developed by the CDC and other agencies. The guidelines mention the first study referenced below, which showed that Truvada reduced risk overall by 44% in the population studied. However, in even better news, among men with detectable levels of medicine in their blood, the risk was actually reduced by as much as 92%. For more information about the guidelines and other clinical trials, please see the CDC page here.

There is good news and bad news here. Good news is that the FDA has approved a pill we can give to HIV negative folks who engage in high-risk behavior to decrease their risk of HIV infection. Bad news is that HIV Infection is on the rise and prevention and safe sex haven’t been enough to slow this rise.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new use for Truvada, the single combination tablet containing emtricitabine and tenofovir, to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners.

Truvada is meant to take every day and used, in combination with safer sex practices, to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection in high-risk adults.

People who have an HIV infected partner can take the drug daily to lower their chances of becoming infected with HIV should they be exposed to the virus.

Approval of Truvada doesn’t mean we are giving up on prevention (condoms, etc.) but is designed for use in conjunction with safe sex practices to reduce the risk of uninfected individuals of acquiring HIV.

FDA approval of Truvada was based on these results:

– In a study of 2,500 HIV negative men or transgender women who have sex with men, results showed that Truvada was effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection by 42%.

– In a study of 4,758 heterosexual couples where one partner was HIV-positive and the other was not, results showed that Truvada reduced the risk of becoming infected by 75%.


Dr O.

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