FDA Approves Drug That Reduces the Spread of HIV

Truvada, the first drug shown to drastically reduce the spread of HIV, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration today as a successful preventative measure for people at high risk of contracting the virus. 

Produced by Foster City-based biotech company Gilead Sciences Inc., Truvada has been shown to reduce the transmission of infection by 75 percent between heterosexual couples when one partner was already infected with HIV, the press reports. Another study found a 42 percent reduction in the spread of HIV among gay and bisexual men willing to take a daily dose in addition to utilizing condoms and counseling services.

One glitch in the study: There was no evidence of a decrease in condom use among the couples who participated in the clinical trials. Thus far, condoms have been shown to be the most effective used to prevent the spread of HIV. Some people worry that Truvada might discourage people from using condoms, or give a false sense of security.
Truvada has been on the market as a treatment method for those already infected with HIV since 2004. With the FDA's latest announcement, many anticipate a dramatic increase in prescribing practices among Bay Area doctors. 

An estimated 1.2 million Americans currently live with HIV. Every year, 50,000 people are diagnosed HIV positive and an additional 240,000 individuals are unaware of their status as carriers of the virus. One more preventative measure to stem annual the tide of infection is an important development in the decades-long battle to prevent the spread of HIV and reduce the numbers of people living with AIDS.

The timing of the FDA's announcement came a day after the San Francisco AIDS Walk yesterday, which raised more than $2 million dollars to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and HIV/AIDS programs and services in the bay area. Truvada is also certain to cause a lot of buzz at the 19th International AIDS conference which starts in Washington, D.C., on July 22, and runs through July 27.

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