Sexual Health news - HIV

New study offers free HIV drug to volunteers

There has been a lot of excitement over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of Truvada this past July, which is the first drug that can be prescribed as a preventative measure against HIV. A new study wants to look into how the drug is received by high-risk individuals who are not yet infected, so researchers are searching for 300 volunteers to receive Truvada over the course of 48 weeks for free, as reported by Mission Local.

Participants must be either men who have sex with men or transgender females. Those who are recruited can take the drug for free in return for recording their social habits, tests and assessments of the pill's effectiveness.

Currently in the U.S., there are 1.2 million individuals living with HIV, 20 percent of whom do not yet know they are infected, as projected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, around 50,000 more contract the virus every year. Now that doctors can prescribe Truvada to high-risk individuals as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), health officials hope this rate will begin to decrease.

As of now, the pill, which is to be taken daily, may cost a patient $14,000 year. Even though the study's investigators are offering this expensive life-saving drug for free, eligible individuals may still be hesitant to sign up. Stephanie Cohen, medical director of the San Francisco City Clinic, explains that most of these people don't trust medicine and are concerned about potential side effects like impaired kidney function, Mission Local reports.

"Do people want to take PrEP, and why or why not? That is the key question to our study," Cohen told the news source.