A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended last week that the HIV treatment Truvada be approved as an HIV prevention tool. Some doctors already have been prescribing the drug off-label to uninfected partners in couples where only one person has HIV. The new recommendation gives such couples hope of obtaining the medication more easily.
"When Wes became positive, it was a strain for both of us," said Nick Literski of his partner's 2009 diagnosis. "It's actually very common for people to break off their relationship when one partner contracts HIV."
"Condoms don't always work. Sometimes they break," said Wes Tibbett, Literski's partner of six years. "If we're intimate and I have an accident, I'm not as worried for Nick."
Dr. Rob Killian, the Seattle couple's physician, said he has prescribed Truvada to five HIV-negative patients in the last two years. Killian said he only writes such a prescription if the patient does not abuse drugs or alcohol, and understands the drug must be taken daily and that condoms should be used.
"My experience with people who are HIV-positive is that those individuals usually have more worry and guilt about protecting their partners," Killian said. "One of the main reasons I started prescribing Truvada was to reduce that kind of anxiety."
"It gives me a peace of mind to know that I'm not going to harm my partner," Tibbett said. "That's a pretty big bonus in anyone's relationship."