HIV Prevention Drug: Study Confirms 100% Effectiveness


HIV is a terrifying scourge upon humanity that according to the Department of Health and Human Services afflicts some 50,000 Americans every year, with African-American males particularly at risk and more than one-fifth of that number not even knowing they are infected. Every day, somewhere in the world about 5,600 people contract HIV, which breaks down to more than 230 every single hour. As of this writing, there are approximately 34 million people living with HIV or AIDS and a death toll of about 658,500 Americans diagnosed with AIDS.


Pill Controversy: Source: BarefootmedsPill Controversy: Source: Barefootmeds



In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved a fixed dose of anti-viral drugs comprised of Preexposure  Prophylaxis  (PrEP), which were sold under the brand name, Truvada. These drugs were prophylactic and administered to those who did not have HIV, but were at risk of contracting it. Truvada is a combination therapy containing two medicines in one (emtrictabine and tenofovir). It fights the HIV virus by attacking the T-cells and decreasing the amount of HIV in the bloodstream. It helps in making it more difficult for HIV-1 to muliply by blocking an enzyme known as reverse transcriptase.


Truvada: Source: The GuardianTruvada: Source: The Guardian


A new study and new hope

A recent, real-world study involving 657 at-risk patients who took the drug, PrEP, for two and one-half years was published in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases . Findings indicated that the controversial daily pill prevented HIV infection in all 657 subjects. In the words of the study's chief author, Jonathan Volk, MD, MPH, physician and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center:

"Our study is the first to extend the understanding of the use of PrEP in a real-world setting and suggests that the treatment may prevent new infection even in a high-risk environment. Up until now, evidence supporting the efficacy of PrEP to prevent HIV infection has come from clinical trials and a demonstration project."

It must be noted that  during the course of the study many participants developed a number of different sexually transmitted diseases, but they remained free of HIV. The most exciting news is that previous clinical trials concerning this drug boasted of a prevention rate of about 86% while the current study suggests 100%!


PrEP Poster: Source: PositivelyAwarePrEP Poster: Source: PositivelyAware


Problems with the new study

According to Julia Marcus, PHD, MPH, post-doctoral fellow at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research  and co-author of the study, due to the fact that Truvada did not halt the infection of other STIs, there can be no accurate evaluation if these rates would have been higher than those that were indicated in the study. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people taking Truvada get tested for STIs every six months and monitor themselves for side effects such as alterations in kidney function.

Future implications

The findings of this study offer hope and promise to those at risk for the HIV virus. Critics fear the daily pill will encourage risky sex among those wth the most to lose, namely, gay and bi-sexual men. Supporters, however, believe that the drug is a life-saver that has the potential to help prevent future infections of this dreaded virus that plagues almost 40 million people world-wide today.

Closing thougths on HIV:

I'm not cured, but the HIV is asleep deep in my body.~ Magic Johnson


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