A breakthrough pill said to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 73%, has been given the green light by the US health regulator, the FDA.
Known as Truvada, this is the first ever pill to be approved by the FDA for prevention of HIV in healthy but high risk individuals or for those who may be in sexual contact with HIV positive partners.
However, the administration has stressed that the pill should be utilized in combination with other safe sex practices, including the use of condoms and regular HIV testing.
“Today’s approval marks an important milestone in our fight against HIV. Every year, about 50,000 U.S. adults and adolescents are diagnosed with HIV infection, despite the availability of prevention methods and strategies to educate, test, and care for people living with the disease,” said FDA commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.
The study initially began in 2010, when a government study found Truvada effective for reducing the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42% when accompanied by the use of condoms and other safe sex practices. The findings also revealed that the pill could reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 75% among heterosexual couples whereby one partner is HIV positive. Following these findings, a group of health experts recommended the pill to the FDA for approval this May.
However, this approval is accompanied by some criticisms from health workers, who say the pill may provide a false sense of security and make people more likely to experiment and take risks. The pill also has some side effects, the most common being diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache and weight loss.