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Prevention/Epidemiology

Utahns Don't Expect Swift Widespread Use of AIDS Pill That Helps Gay Men Avoid HIV Infection

December 22, 2010

Utah HIV/AIDS physicians and advocates are reacting cautiously to news that an already approved HIV treatment can help prevent healthy gay men from becoming infected.

The study involved men who have sex with men, and transgender persons who have sex with men. Among those who took daily emtricitabine plus tenofovir (Truvada), and who also were provided condoms, counseling, and other prevention services, the infection risk was cut by 43.8 percent. Participants who took the pills most faithfully had even more protection, up to 72.8 percent.

Dr. Kevin Fenton, head of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, called the study's results "a major advance" in the fight against AIDS, but he cautioned the pills "should never be seen as a first line of defense against HIV."

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Jennifer Brown, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health who oversees the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), agrees. And she cautioned that further research is needed, for example studying the possibility of drug resistance.

"It's another tool," said Dr. Claudia Goulston, who treats HIV patients at the University of Utah Hospital. "Taking a medication isn't that easy," she said, raising the issues of cost, side effects, and resistance.

Truvada costs from $5,000 to $14,000 a year in the United States. Brown said it is unclear whether federal rules would allow purchasing Truvada for uninfected persons through ADAP. Even if this were permitted, she cringes at spending the program's limited resources that way. "We're struggling to keep our patients who are HIV-positive on the program," she said.

Back to other news for December 2010

Adapted from:
Salt Lake Tribune
12.23.2010


This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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