Guess what? There is a new drug to prevent HIV

by Chinwe Okafor


How would it feel if you know you could go back to the days when you don’t have to worry when having sexual intercourse? Exhilarating right? Well now you can. According to a report, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. In fact, you don’t have to have HIV before you deal with it.

With a daily pill, you reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

The drug is known as the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), it has been tried in the UK and its yielding results.

According to studies via a Proud Trial, the PrEP has been discovered to cut the risk of HIV infections most especially amongst the gay folks as they are known to be the most prone to the virus by a whooping 86%.

According to reports, PrEP has been available to at-risk groups in the United States since 2012. The Proud trial, which took place across 12 NHS trusts in Brighton, London, York, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield, was set up to provide real-world evidence on the pill’s effectiveness, and to answer outstanding questions, such as whether providing it would lead to reduced use of condoms.

The pill used in the trial, Truvada, is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs which has previously been used to treat HIV infection. Developed by Gilead, its newly established ability to prevent as well as treat the virus marks a major turning point in efforts to combat HIV among high-risk groups. “These results are extremely exciting and show PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV infection in the real world,” said Sheena McCormack, professor of clinical epidemiology at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London. “Concerns that PrEP would not work so well in the real world were unfounded.

As great as this sounds, there is a presiding financial argument. As its quick availability is needed, the cost of it still remains an issue. Professor Simon Barton, chair of the HIV Clinical Reference Group for NHS England, which will review the cost-effectiveness of PrEP, said the Proud trial findings were “very important”. “The challenge now is to translate the benefits demonstrated in the study into practice,” he said. “We have already begun work to carefully consider how this treatment could be delivered equitably and most efficiently by liaising closely with the Local Government Association, Public Health England, clinicians and patient representatives.”

Dr Michael Brady, medical director of sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “PrEP is, quite simply, a game-changer…this research shows just how effective PrEP can be in preventing transmission of the virus in groups at greatest risk; offering another line of defence alongside condoms and regular testing. It is not a vaccine and it won’t be for everyone, but once approved, we expect it to significantly increase the momentum in our fight against the virus. Therefore, we urge the Government, NHS England and local authorities to make PrEP a key priority in the fight against HIV.”


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