I’ve heard about a pill you can take to keep from getting HIV. How do I get a prescription like that?
Good, you heard about TRUVADA, the pill recently recommended for daily use to prevent HIV infection. This pill is a combination of the two HIV drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is now considering its final approval for prevention of HIV in those at high risk for getting HIV. Two recent studies showed the risk of getting HIV was cut 42% in healthy gay and bisexual men who also had counseling and used condoms and another study showed that the rate of HIV in heterosexual couples where one was HIV positive was cut by 75%. These studies showed that DAILY use of the drug was very important as those taking the drug less regularly had higher rates of infection.
So is it as simple as taking a pill a day? Not really.
There has been a lot of debate, like will it actually increase the rates of HIV because people may take more risks? Who’s going to pay for it? Will money spent on this take money away from treating those with HIV? How do we get people to take it daily? How do we convince people to keep using condoms? What about women who don’t seem to have as good a response to this medicine? What about side effects from the medication and drug interactions?
In spite of all the controversy, TRUVADA is a new and possibly very important tool to fight HIV, which can be added onto what you are already doing (condoms, safer sex activities), but remember it does NOT prevent HIV 100% of the time, it can be very expensive ($900.00 a month), may not be covered by insurance and needs to be taken daily.
If you are at risk for getting HIV, it is important for you to talk this over with your doctor or other health care provider, as only the two of you can decide if this is the right thing for you. Do it soon!