30 years later...almost a miracle
WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS.
The agency approved Gilead Sciences' pill Truvada as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners.
Public health advocates say the approval could help slow the spread of HIV, which has held steady at about 50,000 new infections per year for the past 15 year
Gilead Sciences has marketed Truvada, which can cost up to $14,000 a year, since 2004 as a treatment for people who are already infected with the virus.
But starting in 2010, studies showed that the drug could actually prevent people from contracting HIV when used as a precautionary measure. A three-year study found that daily doses cut the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42%, when accompanied by condoms and counseling.
Last year, another study found that Truvada reduced infection by 75% in heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not.
Because Truvada is on the market to manage HIV, some doctors already prescribe it as a preventive measure. FDA approval will allow Gilead Sciences to market the drug for that use, which could dramatically increase prescribing.
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