There has been a mooted welcome to the announcement from The US Food and Drug Administration confirming it had approved the drug Truvada for use in preventing HIV in high risk groups in the US.
Truvada has been approved for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, which is the use of antiretroviral drugs to decrease the likelihood of HIV infection in people with a high risk of contracting it. In the announcement the FDA also emphasised the need for other preventative measures such as safe sex practices, risk reduction counselling and regular HIV testing.
Speaking yesterday the FDA commissioner Margaret A Hamburg said: “Today’s approval marks an important milestone in our fight against HIV. Every year, about 50,000 US adults and adolescents are diagnosed with HIV infection, despite the availability of prevention methods and strategies to educate, test, and care for people living with the disease. New treatments as well as prevention methods are needed to fight the HIV epidemic in this country.”
The move will be watched closely around the world, including here in the UK where a Medical Research Council and the Health Protection Agency drug trial will be taking place during the autumn. This clinical trial, called Proud, will looking into and examine the full efficacy of a daily PrEP pill to prevent HIV infection spreading.
Critics fear that the daily taking the drug will lead to an increase in promiscuity amongst gay men increasing the number or other sexually transmitted infections and also warned that whilst the drug has been shown effective at preventing HIV in some cases, it doesn’t eliminate the risk altogether.