There’s A Drug That Prevents HIV. Let’s Use It!
There is a drug since 2012 which is able to protect you from HIV and treat the infection, however, studies showed that if it is given to uninfected people but at a higher risk to get exposed to HIV can lower the resis of getting it by even 90%. Due to the testing being done in a laboratory, some questioned whether the therapy (pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP) will work in real world clinics. But, a study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that men who have sex with men, who are at highest risk of developing it, dropped their rates of HIV dramatically. There were 437 men and transgender women who took the PrEP that consists of emtricitabine and tenofovir (Truvada) for 1 year, and only 2 of them became HIV positive, but both of them showed low blood levels of the drug (they most probably took half of the dose). The rates of sexually transmitted infections did not increase while taking the PrEP, especially those engaging in sex without condom and having multiple sex partners. The drug did not make the users promiscuous or more reckless about their risk.
However, PrEP suffered from an image issue as after it was approved even those in gay community started degrading those who took the drugs and labeling them as Truvada whores, while the well-respected pioneers in AIDS said that PrEP is a dangerous caner which can undo all the laborious work they have done about educating people on the disease and warning the about the unsafe behaviors which promote HIV.
There are other barriers which hold PrEP back and those are cultural perceptions about the infection and the treatment itself, mistrust of the medical system, and competing social or health properties which may contribute to the lower adherence to the drug regimen. There was a study which focused on PrEP trends among young black men who have sex with men, and 40% out of 622 participants were aware of PrEP and only 4% used it even though they belong to the group at highest risk of contracting HIV.
A doctor who was not involved in either study named Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained that they are aware of the PrEP working and doesn’t increase risk behavior, but the main problem is could they get PrEP to the people who really need it. There is information that PrEP is encouraging, but there is also a danger that ir may further widen already existing disparities in HIV incidence. It was provided free to members of the studies, but it costs anywhere from $8,000 to $14,000 a year. This may sound economically, but Fauci said that if the infections are prevented, it will save $350.000 over a lifetime for a person in health costs. Many organizations now offer this drug. While Fauci continues that it is time to put concerns that a drug-based prevention st5rategy will lead to more unsafe behavior and higher HIV rates. It is time to make PrEP available to those who can benefit most.