CDC urges anti-HIV pill for people at high risk of infection

May 15, 2014 by E.j. Mundell, Healthday Reporter
CDC urges anti-HIV pill for people at high risk of infection
Targeted groups include people with an infected partner or those who don't practice safe sex.

(HealthDay)—People deemed to be at high risk for contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, should take anti-HIV medicines that seem to cut transmission risk, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

If used consistently, this approach, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has been shown to reduce HIV infection rates in prior studies by as much as 90 percent, the CDC noted.

"HIV infection is preventable, yet every year we see some 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a news release from the agency. "PrEP, used along with other prevention strategies, has the potential to help at-risk individuals protect themselves and reduce new HIV infections in the United States."

The new guidelines are tied to the 2012 approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a combo drug called Truvada for use as PrEP, along with practices.

"While a vaccine or cure may one day end the HIV epidemic, PrEP is a powerful tool that has the potential to alter the course of the U.S. HIV epidemic today," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in the news release.

The new guidelines say that the use of the PrEP regimen should be considered by the following groups:

  • Anyone involved in an ongoing relationship with a person who is already infected with HIV;
  • Any gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months, and is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who recently tested HIV-negative;
  • A heterosexual person who does not always use condoms when having sex with people who might be at high risk for HIV (injection drug users or bisexual male partners whose HIV status is unknown) and is also not involved with an HIV-negative person in a mutually monogamous relationship;
  • Anyone who has abused injected, illicit drugs over the past six months, shared needles or other equipment tied to injected drug abuse, or been in a drug abuse treatment program.

The CDC is offering PrEP providers with support to help make sure that people on the regimen adhere to it as closely as possible—always an issue, the agency said. Pills need to be taken regularly or the level of protection from PrEP drops dramatically, the CDC noted.

That's why safe sex practices— condoms, especially—remain important.

One expert in the field said that preventing HIV will always take more than a pill.

"We applaud the CDC for acknowledging the effectiveness of PrEP to reduce the risk of HIV infection among those individuals at greatest risk of HIV transmission," said Dr. Michael Mullen, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

"However, it must be emphasized that PrEP cannot and should not be used alone as prophylaxis against HIV infection—rather, PrEP must be used in combination with other proven preventive measures, including practicing safe sex, being tested regularly for STDs, and knowing your and your partner's HIV status," he said.

Dr. Dawn Smith is the epidemiologist in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention who led the development of the guidelines. She stressed that, "individuals will have to decide with their doctor if PrEP is right for them, but for some, this may offer a much-needed strategy to help protect themselves from HIV infection."

But the strategy will require teamwork, she added.

"PrEP is a new approach to HIV prevention that requires continuing collaboration between patients and providers, as effectiveness requires adherence to daily medication and regular medical visits for monitoring, counseling and testing," Smith said.

The new guidelines were published May 14 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: HIV answers raise new ethical questions

More information: There's more on preventing HIV infection at the U.S> National Institutes of Health.

Related Stories

HIV answers raise new ethical questions

July 31, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration's approval last year of the drug Truvada for prevention of HIV infection was a milestone in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but experts are cautioning that it is only the beginning of new ethical ...

US reports rare case of woman-to-woman HIV transmission (Update)

March 13, 2014
A rare case of suspected HIV transmission from one woman to another was reported Thursday by US health authorities.

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.

High-risk heterosexuals should take HIV prevention pill, too

August 10, 2012
(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 ...

Effectiveness of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in Peru

October 9, 2012
In this week's PLOS Medicine, Anna Borquez from Imperial College London and an international group of authors developed a mathematical model representing the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen ...

Recommended for you

War in Ukraine has escalated HIV spread in the country: study

January 15, 2018
Conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of HIV outbreaks throughout the country as displaced HIV-infected people move from war-affected regions to areas with higher risk of transmission, according to analysis by scientists.

Researchers offer new model for uncovering true HIV mortality rates in Zambia

January 12, 2018
A new study that seeks to better ascertain HIV mortality rates in Zambia could provide a model for improved national and regional surveillance approaches, and ultimately, more effective HIV treatment strategies.

New drug capsule may allow weekly HIV treatment

January 9, 2018
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a capsule that can deliver a week's worth of HIV drugs in a single dose. This advance could make it much easier for patients to adhere to the strict schedule ...

New long-acting, less-toxic HIV drug suppresses virus in humanized mice

January 8, 2018
A team of Yale researchers tested a new chemical compound that suppresses HIV, protects immune cells, and remains effective for weeks with a single dose. In animal experiments, the compound proved to be a promising new candidate ...

Usage remains low for pill that can prevent HIV infection

January 8, 2018
From gritty neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to clinics in Kenya and Brazil, health workers are trying to popularize a pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV but which—in their view—remains woefully ...

Researchers find clues to AIDS resistance in sooty mangabey genome

January 3, 2018
Peaceful co-existence, rather than war: that's how sooty mangabeys, a monkey species found in West Africa, handle infection by SIV, a relative of HIV, and avoid developing AIDS-like disease.

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.