CDC To Doctors: Anti-HIV Pill No Magic Bullet Against Virus
The pill, called , is already on the market for treating HIV infections. But the landmark study, involving 2,500 men who have sex with men, showed that taking Truvada faithfully can reduce the risk of infection by as much as 92 percent.
That touched off a lot of celebrating. It's the first time anybody's shown that taking a pill can prevent HIV – and it was the first new weapon against HIV unveiled in many years.
To make sure it works, though, the says doctors need to do a number of things:
The study makes that last point very clear. Overall, men who took Truvada had a 44 percent lower risk of HIV infection. But those who said they took the drug at least 9 out of every 10 day had a 73 percent lower risk.
That doesn't tell the whole story. When researchers tested the blood of patients for traces of Truvada, they found many who claimed to have taken the pill regularly weren't telling the truth. Among those whose tests showed they really did take it every day, the risk of HIV infection was 92 percent lower than those not on the drug.
There's one other thing, the CDC says. Make sure patients understand that warding off HIV isn't cheap. Each pill currently costs around $36, which adds up to more than $13,000 a year. Some insurers might pay, but some might balk.
And Truvada has
side effects. Among the most common are diarrhea,
nausea and fatigue. Less common but very serious reactions are also possible, including a dangerous build up of acid in the blood and liver damage
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.