Truvada, Gilead Sciences’ pill to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people having sex with infected individuals, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday.
The pill is a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as people with partners who are carrying the disease. Public health advocates proclaimed, the approval will help reducing the spread of the fatal disease that infect around 50,000 people per year.
It has been estimated that as of 2010 there have been 26,791 diagnoses of AIDS in the UK, and 19,912 people diagnosed with HIV have died. Around 1.2 million Americans have HIV which can turn into AIDS unless they are treated with antiviral drugs. Also, another estimations claimed, 240,000 HIV carriers remain unaware of their status.
A study, that started in 2010, showed that the if the drug is used as a precautionary measure, it can prevent people from contracting HIV. Daily doses of the drug, accompanied by condoms and counselling, can reduce the risk of the infection by 42% in healthy gay and bisexual men, a three year study has found.
Another study, last year, has explored that Truvada can reduce the chance of the infection by 75% in heterosexual couples, when one of the pair is carrying HIV. Truvada has been marketed by Gilead Sciences since 2004. The drug costs up to $14,000 (£ 8,943.62) a year and has already started being prescribed by some doctors as a preventive measure. The FDA approval will hopefully increase the marketing of the drug.
Myron Cohen, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-author of an accompanying editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, where the study was published, remarked, “We’re at some sort of turning point in the AIDS epidemic. It’s not a single thing going on. It’s the culmination of what’s happened for 30 years. Each of them is moving the political world to start thinking about an AIDS-free generation.”