Drug may prevent HIV - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Drug may prevent HIV

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(12/04/12) - A pill used to treat HIV may actually be able to prevent the virus. It is seen as a milestone by some - the first FDA approved drug to prevent the virus that causes AIDS.

Some worry the drug may set back years of HIV prevention efforts - others just see it is another important weapon against the deadly virus.

Theresa Nowlin contracted HIV in the '80s. "I was like, walking dead."

Today, she's healthy and treats the virus with one pill a day made up of three medications, "that has everything in it that I need."

That includes Truvada. Now, the FDA has approved Truvada, by itself, to prevent HIV.  

Theresa's thinks it's an important step. "It's gonna make a difference in a lot of people's lives."

Taking Truvada daily can stop the virus from replicating, says Dr. Kenneth Mayer. "So even if that one copy gets inside of a cell, it can't do anything."

While condoms are still the best protection, Mayer, of the Fenway Institute, believes Truvada is another good option to fight HIV. He thinks it could really benefit couples where one partner is positive and the other is not.  

But, he says, critics have concerns. "There are many people who have been concerned that this medication may increase risky practices."

"I'm very leery of opening Truvada to everybody," says Scott Galinsky.

He is HIV positive and worried the drug will promote bad choices, like unsafe sex. "Coming from that community of risky behavior and drug addiction, I think it just kind of gives free reign to them."

Dr. Mayer says studies are underway to see if Truvada can be taken less frequently and still be effective. If not covered by insurance, the drug can cost $10,000 a year. However, that price is expected to drop to about a $100 annual cost, when its patent expires in 2017.

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