The first drug which can PREVENT HIV: Pills reduce risk by up to 75% in at risk heterosexual couples
Public health advocates say pill could slow spread of HIVAIDS Healthcare Foundation warn drug could give patients a false sense of security digg]

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UPDATED:

07:24 GMT, 17 July 2012

Groundbreaking: Truvada will be available as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity

Groundbreaking: Truvada will be available as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity

A drug that protects people at risk of HIV from infection has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The pill, called Truvada, has been approved as a preventive
measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring the infection, such as those who have HIV-infected partners.

The FDA said it marked 'an important milestone in our fight against HIV.'

Public health advocates say the approval could help slow the spread
of HIV, which has held steady at about 50,000 new infections per year
for the last 15 years.

However, other campaigners have warned that the pills could give patients a false sense of security.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans and 83,000 people in the UK have HIV,
which develops into AIDS unless treated with antiviral drugs.

With an
estimated 240,000 HIV carriers unaware of their status, doctors and
patients say new methods are needed to fight the spread of the virus.

Truvada combines two anti-HIV drugs in one pill. It has been marketed by Gilead Sciences as a treatment for people who are already infected with the virus in 2004.

But starting in 2010, studies showed that the drug could actually
prevent people from contracting HIV when used as a precautionary
measure.

A three-year study found that daily doses cut the risk of
infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42 per cent, when
accompanied by condoms and counseling.

Last year another study found that Truvada reduced infection by 75
percent in heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with
HIV and the other was not.

Antis: Groups including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation asked the FDA to reject the new indication, saying it could give patients a false sense of security and reduce the use of condoms

Antis: Groups including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation asked the FDA to reject the new indication, saying it could give patients a false sense of security and reduce the use of condoms

Because Truvada is on the market to manage HIV, some doctors already
prescribe it as a preventive measure.

FDA approval will allow Gilead
Sciences to formally market the drug for that use, which could
dramatically increase prescribing.

Truvada's groundbreaking preventive ability has exposed disagreements
about managing the disease among those in the HIV community.

Groups
including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation asked the FDA to reject the new
indication, saying it could give patients a false sense of security and
reduce the use of condoms, the most reliable preventive measure against
HIV.

The drug can help prevent a person becoming infected with HIV

The drug can help prevent a person becoming infected with HIV

AHF President Michael Weinstein, said: 'The FDA’s approval of Gilead’s Truvada as a form of HIV prevention today without any requirement for HIV testing is completely reckless and a move that will ultimately set back years of HIV prevention efforts.'

But FDA scientists said there was no indication from
clinical trials that Truvada users were more likely to engage in risky
sexual behavior.

'What we found was that condom use increased over time and sexually
transmitted infections either remained at baseline levels or decreased,'
said Dr Debra Birnkrant, FDA's director of antiviral products.

'So in
essence, we don't have any strong evidence that condoms were not used or
there was a decrease in condom use.'