July 23, 2012
The World Health Organization on Friday endorsed the concept of using HIV drugs to prevent infection in high-risk HIV-negative individuals. WHO made its statement four days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Gilead Sciences Inc.'s Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis. WHO did not back a particular drug for PrEP, but, "It needs to be a drug like Truvada that has been developed for prevention purposes," said spokesperson Sarah Russell. Truvada, which already is in use as an HIV treatment, costs about $14,000 a year in the United States. "We believe Gilead will bring the price down to about $100 per year per person" in some poor countries, Russell said; company officials could not be reached immediately for comment. WHO noted that it is vital that people taking HIV drugs for PrEP be HIV-negative before they start the regimen to avoid the development of drug-resistant virus. It also stressed the importance of daily adherence to the medication and of continuing to use condoms.