|Study: New pill may prevent HIV transmission|
|Written by Lisa Crocco, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Friday, 10 December 2010 01:27|
A new pill called Truvada containing two anti-Human Immunodeficiency Viruses drugs may reduce the risk of infection by more than 70 percent in gay men, while other studies are now examining its effectiveness in other groups, according to an article in Health Key.
Dr. Robert M. Grant of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology at the University of California San Francisco was the co-chair of this study and knew that preventing transmission versus killing the virus was easier to develop.
The development of Truvada has stirred a lot of excitement in the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome prevention world, according to the article.
“The drug has mainly been used as a treatment for those already infected with HIV. By combining two drugs into one pill or tablet, it makes it easier for those on HIV medications to take it regularly,” Jim Almeda, health educator and student wellness ambassador team coordinator, said.
Truvada is the combination of tenofovir, which was approved in 2001, and emtricitabine, approved in 2002, according to the article.
“The HIV virus is very ingenious in the ways that it escapes attack by the immune system. Even with all scientists have discovered about the virus itself and the immune response to it, we have not been able to develop an effective vaccine,” Laura Vogel, associate professor of biological sciences, said.
“The newer study looked at using it as a way to reduce the risk of HIV infection among men who have sex with men. It seemed to be effective in significantly reducing the risk for HIV infection,” Almeda added. “I think this shows promise in helping to reduce the spread of HIV, especially among men who have sex with men, but more research needs to be conducted to see if it will be effective for other groups as well – including women and heterosexual males.”
The problems that follow, though, are that the consumer must take the pill every day and side effects may persist, Almeda said.
“The potential side effects of long-term, prophylactic Truvada use also need to be investigated, but may include loss of bone density and impaired liver and kidney function,” Vogel said.
“Like many anti-viral drugs, development of drug resistance is also a concern. Optimal doses and regimens would need to be established along with further testing on other at-risk groups,” Vogel said. “Nonetheless, this study represents an exciting breakthrough in our ability to prevent HIV infection.”
Studies are being conducted globally looking into Truvada and other drugs’ effects on more than 100,000 heterosexual men and women, the article said.
“We still need to promote other safer sex methods, such as consistent condom use, getting tested for HIV, having sex with only one partner who you know is not HIV positive, and engaging in other activities for intimacy that don’t involve the exchange of body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions),” Almeda said.