According to the New York Times, two new studies released on Wednesday add to the growing body of evidence that taking a daily pill containing one or two AIDS drugs can keep an uninfected person from catching the fatal human immunodeficiency virus. As it becomes ever clearer that modern antiretroviral drugs can not only treat the disease but prevent it, pressure is likely to increase on donors to find more money to supply them in places like Africa and on pharmaceutical manufacturers to either sell them cheaply or release their patents to companies that can.
Until a few years ago, condoms and abstinence were alone in that tool kit. Recent studies have added circumcision, vaginal microbicides, a daily pill for the uninfected (known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) and early treatment for the infected (known as “treatment as prevention”).
One study released Wednesday, known as Partners PrEP and conducted in Kenya and Uganda by researchers from the University of Washington, showed that participants who took a daily Truvada pill — a mix of tenofovir and emtricitabine — had a 73 percent lower chance of getting infected. The study was done in 4,758 “discordant couples,” those in which one partner was infected and the other was not. Partners who took a Viread pill — which contains only tenofovir — had a 62 percent lower chance.
The second study, called TDF2 and done in Botswana by the C.D.C., found that those taking Truvada had a 63 percent lower chance of infection. The subjects were 1,200 sexually active young adults.
The studies were due to be released at an AIDS conference in Rome next week. But the University of Washington study was stopped early because it was so clear that the pills were working that it would be unethical to continue distributing placebos. The C.D.C. decided to release its results simultaneously.
Information taken directly from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/health/research/14aids.html published July 13, 2011. Written by Donald G. McNeil Jr.