Truvada, a pill available on the market since 2004 as a medication to treat individuals already infected with HIV, had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first medication shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Produced by Gilead Sciences Inc., Truvada is a daily HIV pill that is a combination of two older HIV drugs, Emtriva and Viread. The drug has been used to treat HIV patients. However, research beginning in 2010 indicated that Truvada could prevent HIV-negative individuals from contracting the virus when the drug was used as a precautionary measure.
As James Deluca, vice president of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, comments on the new use of the Truvada HIV pill:
“It really marks a new era in HIV prevention because in adding Truvada as a prevention strategy, what comes with it is expanded access to HIV testing, condoms and prevention counseling and support.”
In one three year study, daily doses of Truvada reduced the risk of HIV infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42 percent. In another study, Truvada reduced the risk of infection by 75 percent in heterosexual couples in which only one partner was HIV-positive.
Truvada would be another tool in the fight against HIV for specific individuals such as those in sexual relationships with infected partners.
Because Truvada is already a medication that is marketed as a treatment for the disease, some doctors already prescribe the HIV pill as a preventive measure to certain patients. The new approval by the FDA will allow Truvada to be marketed as an HIV prevention drug.
As Dr. Tom Giordano of Baylor College of Medicine explains:
“It’s been most effective in people who are at very high risk and are able to take the drug on a regular basis. When you really boil it down that’s going to be a relatively focused population, but it’s an important population to treat.”
Do you think that the use of Truvada as a preventative HIV pill will help lower HIV rates in certain high risk individuals?