Truvada offers hope for those at risk of HIV

At the end of 2014, about 36.9 million people were living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus worldwide. There are over 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States.

A new treatment called Truvada has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and it is showing great success in the prevention of acquiring HIV.

“It’s significant because this is the first that we have an approved drug by the FDA for the prevention of HIV infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN.

“We have approximately 30 drugs that have been approved for the treatment of HIV infection, but this adds now to that comprehensive tool kit of multiple different ways to prevent HIV infection.”

Truvada was initially approved for HIV prevention in 2012. Use of Truvada is offered to those who have not been infected with HIV. For those who are already infected with the virus, Truvada must be used in combination with another medication, such as Altripla or Evotaz.

Last June, the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco conducted a study, finding 100 percent of participants who consistently took the medication every day did not get HIV. The study was made up individuals who were all considered to be at high risk for acquiring HIV.

Another study found that Truvada reduced by 75 percent the risk of transmission in 4,800 couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not.

The results of the Kaiser Permanent study, along with the other promising statistics, found Truvada provides many with hope of having a method that will greatly reduce rates of HIV transmission and infection.

Gilead Sciences, the company responsible for Truvada, told New York magazine through a spokesperson that the medication is “an important public health intervention.”

While many support the preventative use of Truvada against HIV, some argue that preventative use of Truvada will encourage individuals to engage in “high risk” sexual behavior.

“I think what the problem is with HIV drugs and HIV in general is that people have this conception that, because it’s acquired through human behavior, we can’t treat it exactly as other medical problems,” said Dr. Angela Oduro, OB/GYN, in an interview with The Guilfordian.

“Why is it okay to say we can’t give you this medication because you acquired the disease through your own behavior?”

Another concern that some have about pre-exposure prophylaxis is that some will consider it the new condom and therefore not use condoms and other forms of protection.

“I remember seeing Truvada and realizing how far we have come in terms of HIV treatment,” said Oduro.

Oduro has been using Truvada to treat pregnant patients who are HIV-positive.

“Now, people can take a combination drug and have a good antiretroviral regimen,” said Oduro.

If you are interested in getting involved with the fight against HIV and raising awareness for the virus, then consider joining the Community Aids Awareness Project at Guilford.

“CAAP’s mission is to educate the Guilford campus and the Greensboro community about HIV/AIDS as they connect to themes of race, gender, etc.,” says CAAP on Facebook.