Two studies sparked hope in the medical community, as Gilead’s Truvada daily pill shows promise against HIV and was met with excellent results even after passing clinical trial. The exceptional decrease in risk of infection has been deemed to pave the way for the possible eradication of the AIDS epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV, with a steady 50,000 diagnosed every year. Among them, 1 in 8 patients are unaware of their condition, which will further encourage its spreading through unprotected sex, with more new cases found each year that has worried medical health professionals.
The problem seems without an end, with the virus already claiming the lives of 25 million people around the world. And still, there is no cure, no vaccine, just treatments and ways one can live with the highly transmissible condition.
However, studies have shown that Gilead’s Truvada drug (tenofovir-emtricitabine), that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can highly reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86% when used as a preventive measure (a pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP).
The study conducted in the United States, in San Francisco, had seen to 657 gay men between the ages of 20 and 70 years old take the daily pill when found that 85% of them were at high risk of exposure, meaning that they had unprotected sex with five or more partners within the last year. The results were highly promising and the drug seemed to live up to its expectations.
Only 2 out of 100 participants per year within the 2012 to 2015 period had been diagnosed with HIV, in comparison with the 9 out of 100 who had delayed access to the drug. According to Dr. Jonathan Volk, a physician of infectious disease at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, given the high number of participants who didn’t use condoms, there would’ve been many more new cases of HIV without the pill.
The second study condoned in the United Kingdom also boasted excellent results, with gay men who started daily PrEP found much fewer new HIV infections than those who waited a year to start on the pill. In fact, according to Dr. Kenneth Mayer of the Fenway Institute, the reduction of infection was by 86%.
Since the pill’s incredible results have been tested multiple times, it’s now a matter of making the daily treatment as cost-effective, since current options are incredibly costly for patients. In the United States, Truvada drives prices up at $1,000 per month, but non-profit organizations are working with Gilead to develop generic forms of tenofovir-emtricitabine.