The New York State Department of Health has approved use of the HIV medication Truvada to try to prevent new HIV infections.
After months of anticipation, the Health Department’s AIDS Institute released thorough clinical guidelines for pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, which is a daily dose of HIV medication that people who are HIV-negative but at-risk of contracting the virus can take to drastically reduce their chance of infection.
The drug, known by its prescription name Truvada, can reduce the chance of infection by as much as 73 percent, according to studies funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
However, the AIDS Institute stressed that PrEP alone was not enough to prevent new infections.
“PrEP should not be offered as a sole intervention for HIV prevention. PrEP should only be prescribed as part of a comprehensive prevention plan,” the report says.
The state report recommends that doctors work with community AIDS organizations to identify high-risk individuals who could benefit from PrEP, then after discussing it with them, begin a 30-day trial before figuring out a longer-term plan.
While certainly anything that can slow down or prevent new infections is a good thing, my only concern reading this is people may take the drug thinking they are impervious to infection and possibly take part in unsafe sex practices.
Also, the drug Truvada costs between $8,000-14,000 a year. That’s quite the heavy hit on someone’s budget when condoms are much cheaper and have a better history of preventing infection.
I applaud the expansion of protections and admit I’m not smart enough to have all the answers. I’m just a little wary for folks who may think they have it covered by taking this pill.
Just my .02