Sexual Health news - HIV

CDC recommends HIV prevention drug to some straight couples

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now advises that physicians prescribe Truvada, an AIDS prevention medication, to heterosexual men and women who are at risk of HIV, as reported by the Associated Press (AP). Previously, the drug was only prescribed for men who have sex with men.

This new recommendation was a response to the fact that more than 25 percent of new HIV diagnoses are made among heterosexuals.

Since the HIV epidemic began in the early 1980s, public health officials have been looking for new ways to decrease the rate of transmission. Approximately 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and one out of five are unaware of their infection, according to the CDC. Every year, around 50,000 new cases arise.

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis for MSM, but now health officials wish to expand the distribution of the medication to straight couples, in which one partner is infected with the virus.

"That's not a portion of the epidemic we want to ignore," said Dawn Smith, M.D., the lead author of the new guidance, as reported by the AP.

Using condoms is a highly efficient way to prevent transmitting an HIV infection to a sexual partner. The contraceptive option provides a barrier, safeguarding the healthy individual. However, in some cases, such as pregnancy, healthcare professionals can prescribe Truvada to ensure that expectant mothers don't get infected during the gestation period, risking mother-to-child infections during or after childbirth.

Although it is expensive to take Truvada for prevention, more health insurance plans may cover it in the future.