We are very aware of the disastrous effects that H.I.V. has on people’s lives, but medicine might have made a step forward and found a way to impede the infection. How? Via one daily pill that people need to take in order to prevent H.I.V. Wednesday was a great day for San Francisco’s largest private health insurer, announcing this fascinating, life-changing breakthrough.
The insurer declared that, out of its 657 clients who received the drug and taken it every day, none have contracted H.I.V. over the course of two years. While the result looks promising, it is normal to have our fair share of doubts when we first look at it. What drug are we talking about? Who were the patients who received it? And, most importantly, is a two-year term long enough to ensure its effectiveness?
Needless to say, critics emerged quickly, stating that the use of this drug, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or, in short, PrEP, could consequentially lead to people not using condoms as much as they have until now, exposing themselves to H.I.V. freely and resulting in more infections than we have ever had until now.
One study that was later published in the Clinical Infectious Disease revealed that people from San Francisco who were on PrEP were mostly gay. Indeed, they used fewer condoms and they did contract a number of various venereal diseases, but absolutely none of them contracted H.I.V., which ensures that the drug meets the standards it was created for.
The majority of sexual infections are relatively easy to cure with antibiotics, but the danger should not be underestimated. H.I.V., on the other hand, is not as easy to deal with. It can be kept under control with antiretroviral drugs, but they need to be taken every day for the rest of the patient’s life and it leaves both physical and psychological marks.
Dr. Jonathan E. Volk, an epidemiologist and the lead author of the study, takes great comfort in this discovery saying that “it is very reassuring data”. Dr. Volk is confident that if the drug works in a “high-risk population”, it will perform accordingly in any given circumstance.
While further investigation is going to occur in order to ensure that the drug is effectively working will take place, the drug’s discovery comes as great news for doctors and patients alike. It seems that mankind has, yet again, been able to overcome a great health obstacle that might have held people back for thousands of years. But now, with this breakthrough, things are going to evolve considerably better.
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