Doctors Make Push For Highly-Effective HIV Prevention Drug
Doctors say that the HIV treatment drug Truvada can also prevent HIV infection in high-risk populations and are petitioning the FDA to allow its use for that purpose. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
The once-a-day pill Truvada, which is a combination of two medications, is already used to treat HIV.
Now, FDA advisors want to get the drug approved to prevent HIV in high-risk populations, a treatment also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP.
The recommendation comes after three major studies showed the drug reduced new infection rates up to 76 percent in high-risk populations and more than 90 percent when also practicing safe sex.
"The thinking is, if you could get these two medications, both of them work against the virus. If you have them at the sight of infection, meaning where the virus is entering the person, then the theory is if you have the drugs on board you can prevent the virus from establishing infection in the first place," said Dr. Roy Gulick, a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
More than 50,000 are still newly infected with HIV every year.
Doctors say approval of Truvada or other drugs like it to guard against the virus could be a game-changer where traditional methods have failed.
However, they caution that it is an additional method of protection, not a substitute.
"It still should not be thought of as a replacement for a condom. That is the critical message here. It is for people who are in certain high-risk situation. Perhaps if they are HIV negative and in a committing relationship with an HIV positive partner, then yes, they may want to consider going on Truvada," said Dr. Stephen Goldstone, an assistant clinical professor of surgery at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
If approved for this use, doctors will also be reminding patients that it's not protective against other sexually transmitted diseases.
The FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory panels.
Approval of Truvada for preventive use is being fast-tracked because there is no other drug like it, which means a final decision could come within weeks.