Minding Your Health – New Drug is Proving Effective in Preventing HIV

People who are most at risk for acquiring HIV infection now have a preventive option that seems to be very effective. Truvada, a medication that works best when taken daily, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July 2012 as the first pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis. It’s referred to as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylactic).
In the United States, about 50,000 people are infected each year by HIV and about 1.2 million are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies vary, but about 13 percent of those who are HIV-positive are not aware of their infection. Gay and bisexual men, people of color and Hispanic males are still most at risk.
Truvada is actually a combination of two drugs – tenofovir and emtricitabine – and it was introduced for use in 2004 as one of many medications to treat and manage HIV infection. Now it’s available to help prevent HIV infection for those who are not HIV-positive but who are at significant risk.
CDC guidelines stipulate that clear criteria for risk must be established (sex with multiple partners, an HIV-positive partner, IV drug use) and current HIV-negative status must be confirmed before a patient begins PrEP. Counseling is recommended to encourage patients to take the one pill daily as prescribed, continue condom use, and return for three-month follow-up visits (http://1.usa.gov/1gckiNE).
PrEP has been found by the CDC to be 92 percent effective, but this may be a conservative estimate. In a three-year study of 2,500 HIV-negative men and transgender women in six countries by Robert Grant of the Gladstone Institute of Virology &amp