According to two new studies, Truvada – the pill that prevents HIV infections appears to be working.
Truvada, the HIV prevention drug was approved in the US. The drug is manufactured by Gilead, and it reduces the risk of getting the HIV virus up to 92%, according to the first tests conducted in laboratory settings by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pill, however, does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.
In the first study, conducted in San Francisco, of 655 people who took the pill daily, there were no HIV infections. Whereas in the other study, participants from UK had a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with AIDS than usually.
Although Truvada had miraculous results in carefully controlled clinical trials, scientists were concerned whether the drug could perform as well in real-life settings.
In the American study, which was published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, more than 650 participants of different ages, ranging between 20 and 70, used Truvada daily from 2012 until now. The majority of the participants were gay and bisexual men. When the experiment was stopped, none of the participants was diagnosed with HIV infections. However, almost 50% of them had new sexually transmitted infections.
At first, the high rate of STIs was concerning, but it could have gone up only because the study participants tended to visit the doctor more often than people normally would. But the possibility that the high rate of STIs was linked to Truvada pills remains.
52 of 143 participants admitted that they have stopped using condoms. Dr. Jonathan Volk, the study’s author and physician at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, said that there are rational explanations for this decrease, one of them is that the participants may had monogamous relationships.
Dr. Volk said that without the pill the results of the study would have been devastating, considering the number of participants and STIs that could have been transmitted through unprotected sex.
In the UK study, which was published in The Lancet, the gay men who started taking Truvada had significantly fewer HIV infections than the gay men who started taking the pill one year later. To put things in perspective, there were about 2 cases of new HIV infections among every group of 100 participants that was under PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), compared to 9 infections per 100 for the groups on delayed medication.
If you take both studies and do the math, the reduction of getting HIV infections shown a 86% decrease. Maybe the drug isn’t flawless, but given that AIDS is always on the rise and there no other efficient treatments exist, it sure does work really well.
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