Sexual Health news - HIV

HIV drug may only be accessible to a small population

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the distribution of Truvada to prevent HIV in adults who did not have the virus, but may engage in sexual activity with an HIV-positive partner. Researchers proclaimed this event to be a big step in the fight against AIDS in the U.S. However, there are some factors that may prevent widespread use of the drug.

The main problem is access. Right now, most individuals who fall into high-risk categories for contracting HIV do not have dependable access to healthcare, as reported by Reuters. This includes people who exchange sex for drugs or money, injection-drug users, and those infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis or malaria.

For patients who do have good coverage, Truvada costs insurers $14,000 per year. In addition, those who are prescribed the medication not only have to take it on a daily basis, but are required to attend HIV testing every three months.

"There are a number of rather significant implementation challenges," said Stephen Morin, M.D., director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. "Part of it has to do with the requirement to take a pill a day, which could be addressed by a more long-term administration of the drug."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV every year. Ideally, health officials would want each of these potential new cases to be prevented by taking Truvada, but with this new information at hand, that's unlikely. This is why researchers are still hard at work trying to find new preventative measures, such as long-acting injections, gels and vaginal rings, which may be more effective in treating some of these at-risk populations.