H.I.V. pill has worked thus far, despite criticism

Sep 03, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT
Antiretroviral pills Truvada sit on a tray at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

All 657 clients who have used the drug to prevent H.I.V. in the form of a daily pill have not contracted H.I.V. over a period of two years. Initial criticism of the drug came from those who purported that the pill would encourage more risky sex and increase infections. The New York Times reports:

Demonstrating that taking a daily pill to prevent H.I.V. infection can work in the real world, San Francisco’s largest private health insurer announced Wednesday that not one of its 657 clients receiving the drug had become infected over a period of more than two years.
 
That outcome contradicted some critics’ predictions that so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, would lead to less condom use and more H.I.V. infections.
 
A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the San Franciscans on PrEP, almost all of whom were gay men, did use fewer condoms — and contracted several other venereal diseases as a result. But none got H.I.V.
 
Most other sexual infections, while potentially dangerous, can be cured with antibiotics. H.I.V. cannot, though it can be controlled with antiretroviral drugs taken for life.
 
 
"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 HIV infections even in a high-risk setting," Dr. Jonathan Volk of Kaiser Permanente's San Francisco Medical Center said in a statement.
 
The CDC has been recommending it since 2014.
 
"The average age of PrEP users was 37, and 99 percent were men who have sex with men," Kaiser said.
 
They were high risk because they often had multiple sexual partners, or had a partner who had HIV. Male and female sex workers and injecting drug users are also at high risk of catching the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.
 
The people taking PrEP appeared to have continued their high-risk behavior, Kaiser said.

 

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