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HIV BREAKTHROUGH: New AIDS prevention pill may cut infection rates in IV drug users by 50 percent

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. health experts say that a new AIDS prevention drug called tenofovir should be approved for use by intravenous drug users. An anti-retroviral drug, tenofivir has been approved to other high-risk groups such as homosexual and bisexual men. The drug could soon be made available to those who inject heroin and methamphetamine.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the government of Thailand are now recommending that the drug should be taken daily by drug users.

In a joint study, scientists followed more than 2,400 drug users at clinics across Bangkok, in Thailand. Half of the test subjects were given a daily dose of tenofovir, packaged as Viread, while the other half were given a placebo.

Followed for four years, 17 of those taking the preventative drug contracted HIV, while 33 of the people taking the placebo became infected. It was then concluded that the drug reduces HIV risk by 50 percent.

Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of AIDS prevention for the CDC, says that "this study completes the story" about how HIV drugs can protect people at highest risk of infection.

The only HIV prevention drug which is currently, available for use in the U.S. is Truvada which is prohibitively expensive at $14,000 a year. The tenofovir which was used in the study costs just $360 a year per patient.

"We now know that pre-exposure prophylaxis can be a potentially vital option for HIV prevention in people at very high risk for infection, whether through sexual transmission or injecting drug use," researcher Dr. Michael Martin says. "Adherence was a key factor determining efficacy in our trial among people who inject drugs."

Scientists are also currently working on an HIV vaccine. However, the U.S. government recently stopped trials of the experimental vaccine after an independent review found it did not prevent HIV infection or reduce the amount of HIV in the blood.


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