High-risk heterosexuals should take HIV prevention pill, too

August 10, 2012
High-risk heterosexuals should take HIV prevention pill, too
More than 1 in 4 new HIV infections in U.S. in 2009 involved heterosexuals, research shows.

(HealthDay) -- Doctors should consider prescribing the HIV prevention pill Truvada to their heterosexual patients who are at high risk for the virus, not just high-risk gay and bisexual men, experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

The CDC announcement comes on the heels of recent research that revealed that 27 percent of new HIV cases in the United States in 2009 involved heterosexuals who were not injection-drug users. Based on these findings, government health officials advised that the once-a-day pill can also help prevent in high-risk heterosexual men and women.

Last month, the U.S. approved the use of Truvada for the reduction of risk for sexual acquisition of HIV infection among adults, including both heterosexuals and gay or bisexual men.

The newly updated CDC guidelines are an attempt to prevent the spread of HIV through heterosexual sex. U.S. health officials noted that Truvada, when taken regularly in combination with other preventative measures, can offer an additional layer of protection for heterosexual men and women at high risk for infection with the virus that causes AIDS.

The CDC is not recommending Truvada for all heterosexuals who are sexually active, and they stress that the condom remains a good first line of defense against HIV. However, couples in which one member is HIV-positive and the other is uninfected may look to Truvada as an option in addition to . And if such a couple wanted to have a baby, Truvada might be a good option in that case as well, Dr. Dawn Smith, the CDC physician who was lead author of the new guidance, told the Associated Press.

advised, however, that doctors who consider prescribing the anti- for their high-risk heterosexual patients should be certain these men and women are not already infected with the virus. Doctors should also continuously monitor their patients' and provide this high-risk group with regular counseling on other ways to prevent the spread of HIV, such as practicing safe sex.

High-risk heterosexuals are "not a portion of the epidemic we want to ignore," Smith, of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, told AP.

When used as a preventive, the daily pill costs between $6,000 and $12,000 a year, although some private insurers and Medicaid programs may cover it, Smith added.

Although , made by Gilead Sciences, has been approved since 2004, the CDC authors noted that guidelines on the use of the drug will be updated as more information on its efficacy and safety for all groups at risk for HIV becomes available from additional studies.

In the United States, an estimated 48,100 new HIV infections occurred in 2009, the authors noted in background information in the report, which was published in the Aug. 10 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: US delays decision on first drug to prevent HIV

More information:
Find out more about HIV/AIDS at AIDS.gov.


Related Stories

US delays decision on first drug to prevent HIV

June 9, 2012
(AP) — Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. says federal health regulators have delayed a decision on whether to approve its drug Truvada as the first pill that prevents HIV infection.

Wednesday is national HIV testing day

June 26, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but 20 percent of them don't know they're infected.

UNAIDS welcomes US approval of drug to stop HIV

July 17, 2012
The UN agency tasked with fighting AIDS on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the United States to allow the use of an HIV prevention pill for the first time.

FDA review favors first drug for HIV prevention (Update)

May 8, 2012
(AP) -- A pill that has long been used to treat HIV has moved one step closer to becoming the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

Drug stops HIV among hetero couples, not just gays

July 13, 2011
An AIDS drug already shown to help prevent spread of the virus in gay men also works for heterosexual men and women, two studies in Africa found. Experts called it a breakthrough for the continent that has suffered most from ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests a way to stop HIV in its tracks

December 1, 2017
When HIV-1 infects an immune cell, the virus travels to the nucleus so quickly there's not enough time to set off the cell's alarm system.

Discovery puts the brakes on HIV's ability to infect

November 30, 2017
Viewed with a microscope, the virus faintly resembles a pineapple—the universal symbol of welcome. But HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is anything but that. It has claimed the lives of more than 35 million people so far.

Rising levels of HIV drug resistance

November 30, 2017
HIV drug resistance is approaching and exceeding 10% in people living with HIV who are about to initiate or reinitiate first-line antiretroviral therapy, according to the largest meta-analysis to date on HIV drug resistance, ...

Male circumcision and antiviral drugs appear to sharply reduce HIV infection rate

November 29, 2017
A steep drop in the local incidence of new HIV infections accompanied the rollout of a U.S.-funded anti-HIV program in a large East-African population, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Combination HIV prevention reduces new infections by 42 percent in Ugandan district

November 29, 2017
A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine provides real-world evidence that implementing a combination of proven HIV prevention measures across communities can substantially reduce new HIV infections ...

Research on HIV viral load urges updates to WHO therapy guidelines

November 24, 2017
A large cohort study in South Africa has revealed that that low-level viraemia (LLV) in HIV-positive patients who are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) is an important risk factor for treatment failure.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.