This new medical breakthrough could become a game changer in the fight against HIV.
A new study following 657 people who took the HIV prevention drug for 2.5 years has found that 100 percent of them remain HIV-free – even those in high-risk environments. The pill is known as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP under brand name, Truvada.
According to Fox News report, Dr. Ray Martins from Whitman-Walker Health says the pill, was approved by the FDA for prevention back in 2012. He says the results of the study show that the little blue pill can effectively prevent someone from contracting HIV.
So how it works, it doesn’t allow HIV to spread throughout the body. It stops it from making more copies of itself and infecting other parts of the body and other white blood cells,” said Dr. Martins.
But despite promising results, researchers are hesitant to overstate the potential of the drug in halting the spread of HIV because of how fast its efficacy falls when a pill is skipped, and the persistent stigma that’s followed its use in the US.
This 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,” says lead author and epidemiologist, Jonathan Volk from Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Centre in the US.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the pill has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 92 percent – but only when taken consistently every day. And therein lies the problem.
The problem with the most recent study is that its results are contingent on people taking the pill religiously every day for the rest of their life, which isn’t exactly practical, and the CDC says it’s “much less effective” if not taken consistently. Even studies where high-risk people were paid to take the pill consistently failed.
Not only does the drug pose a risk to those who don’t take it consistently, it’s been criticized in the US because of the temptation to forgo condoms, which brings with it an increased risk of catching other sexually transmitted diseases. The hashtag #Truvadawhore went viral soon after its FDA approval, despite the fact that studies have found that taking the pill doesn’t actually result in a reduction in safe sex practices.
According to Washington Post reports, right now, researchers recommend taking the pill every day alongside a separate regime for keeping other STI’s at bay. There are also studies underway now to see how effective the pill could be when taken before and after sex rather than daily.