In what is being deemed a somewhat controversial study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente have determined that an HIV-prevention pill, Truvada, might just have amazing results. The drug, which is known as an as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has been a part of a 32-month study after it was approved for use by the FDA in 2012. The results of the study showed that there were absolutely no new cases of HIV reported for the 657 participants in the research which took place in San Francisco.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when a user of Truvada is exposed to HIV the two anti-retroviral medicines (called tenofovir and emtricitabine) prevent the virus from establishing a permanent infection. The participants reported other STI infections from high-risk activities like unprotected sex and drug use, but again, there were zero new HIV infections.
The study is raising criticism because people feel like the drug encourages unsafe sex. In fact, most of the participants in this particular study, who were all bisexual or gay men, admitted to engaging in unsafe sexual practices. That is why there was a very high rate of other STIs reported. Other studies have shown that PrEP users actually engaged in safer sex.
Still, according to Jonathan Volk, the study leader, “This is very reassuring data. It tells us that PrEP works even in a high-risk population.” He also still recommends the use of condoms and regular STI screening. Volk went on to say, “PrEP is another line of defense,” Volk said. “I don’t think PrEP is right for everybody. But for the folks who need it, it works.”