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Abstinence or Truvada – Would You Rather Practice Abstinence or use a HIV Prevention Drug?

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The recent approval of the first-ever daily pill to help prevent against HIV was by US regulators has raised concerns of encouraging risky sex behaviour.

Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences in California, has been on the market since 2004 and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for a new use as a tool to help ward off HIV in otherwise healthy people, in combination with safe sex and regular testing.  It was approved by the United States yesterday for use in uninfected adults who are at risk for getting the virus that causes AIDS.

The pill as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been hailed by some AIDS experts as a potent new tool against human immunodeficiency virus, but some health care providers are concerned it could encourage risky sex behavior.

Now, let’s try to understand this drug better.

The regimen is estimated to cost around $14,000 per year, making it out of reach of many.

“Truvada alone should not be used to prevent HIV infection,” said Debra Birnkrant, director of the division of antiviral products at the FDA. “Truvada as PrEP represents another effective, evidence-based approach that can be added to other prevention methods to help reduce the spread of HIV.”

The FDA said Truvada should be used as “part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that includes other prevention methods, such as safe sex practices, risk reduction counseling, and regular HIV testing.”

Truvada was previously approved as a treatment for people infected with HIV to be used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.

The decision by the FDA followed the advice of an independent panel in May that supported Truvada for prevention in uninfected people, after clinical trials showed it could lower the risk of HIV in gay men and heterosexual couples.

One study on Truvada, called the iPrEx trial, published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine included 2,499 men who were sexually active with other men but were not infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

Participants were selected at random to take a daily dose of Truvada — a combination of 200 milligrams of emtricitabine and 300 milligrams of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate — or a placebo.

Those in the study who took the drug regularly had almost 73 percent fewer infections. Across the entire study, including those who had not been as diligent in taking Truvada, there were 44 percent fewer infections than in those who took a placebo.

A second study on 4,758 heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not, showed that Truvada reduced the risk of becoming infected by 75 percent compared with a placebo.

Experts have described the results as game-changing and the first demonstration that an already-approved oral drug could decrease the likelihood of HIV infections.

Side Effects

Common side effects were the same as experienced by people with HIV who were taking Truvada, and included diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and weight loss.

The drugmaker must also include a warning that Truvada for PrEP “must only be used by individuals who are confirmed to be HIV-negative prior to prescribing the drug and at least every three months during use.”

So, what do you think about Truvada? Would you rather abstain or use the drug? Do you think it would encourage risky sexual behavior among adults?

Please share your thoughts.

News Source: Vanguard

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

20 Comments

  1. peaches

    July 17, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Abstinence is still our best bet!! your body is God’s temple so keep sex only for ur spouse! cheers

  2. Tiki

    July 17, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Anybody who relies on a preventive drug to perpetuate risky sexual behavior deserves what they will eventually get, which is HIV. 99 days for the sexual deviant, one day for the virus?

  3. Mz B

    July 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Abstinence is the way God intended it! Sex for your spouse and spouse only. Just imagine a world where we all lived according to Gods word and plan…Would there ever be such drugs to prevent or limit the risk of any such disease such as AID’s, HIV….would there even be any such thing as a sexual transmitted disease? Just a thought. This is where sin has taken us.

    God help us!

  4. mahmood musa

    July 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

    abstinence or condomisation is still the surest way of hiv prevention

  5. climax

    July 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

    “Truvada alone should not be used to prevent HIV infection,” said Debra Birnkrant, director of the division of antiviral products at the FDA. “Truvada as PrEP represents another effective, evidence-based approach that can be added to other prevention methods to help reduce the spread of HIV.”
    The FDA said Truvada should be used as “part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that includes other prevention methods, such as safe sex practices, risk reduction counseling, and regular HIV testing”
    Even if people use the drug, they have to keep living responsibly, so why buy the drug when living responsibly proves cheaper for me.

    All these wonder drugs sef, there is news going round that the cervical cancer vaccine may contain something that could promote infertility in women…….So what do i say, live responsibly and pray for good health, cos these drugs while preventing one ailment may hatch a new set of problems for the users.

    • ritzmisan

      July 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      exactly the point @climax. that was spot on

  6. Princess of Zion

    July 17, 2012 at 9:38 am

    There is a reason why only the counsel of God will stand!Please, your body is a temple!! You don’t need to defile it with so many drugs, why not abstain?

    http://princessofzion.wordpress.com/

  7. deedee

    July 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Well, it is necessary inorder to attain a HIV free generation, where one spouse is positive the other can be HIV free and produce HIV negative offspring. I believe it will be controlled the same way post exposure prophylaxis is to avoid and to discourage deliberate risky sexual behaviour.

  8. Blackknight

    July 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Abstinence, as if it is easy when am not a priest. Even priests are finding it difficult these days.
    In all honesty, I will take TRUVADA.You and I know that Sex is very good for your health.

  9. Ama

    July 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

    yeah so what if you are married and your husband is sleeping around like a dog…you could sure use this drug…The world is not black or white!

  10. istidele

    July 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    hope they never approve this in england, d nhs cant afford to fund this rubbish

  11. Trina

    July 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Its a “no” for me. I dont even wanna hear it **looking elsewhere**

  12. davina

    July 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Yaaay! Finally α drug that can save women from being killed by their cheating husbands! Don’t trust him? Pop Truvada before he brings the virus home to you.

    • Princess

      July 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      God bless u
      U dnt trust him pop d pill, do know how many cheating husbands have killed their families

  13. clairebaby

    July 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    HIV is not contracted ONLY through sex! Health workers who are exposed daily to the virus through contaminated needles, etc etc are also @ risk. So while abstinence is a good way to avoid transmission, it doesn’t work in all cases.
    This truvada drug could be very useful to such people, provided it is made more affordable.

  14. lilly

    July 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    “Common side effects were the same as experienced by people with HIV who were taking Truvada, and included diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and weight loss.”

    so what is the use of taking it then? Abstinence is the BEST!

  15. birdieblue22

    July 17, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    This is the Abortion issue all over again!! They should stop preaching safe sex and concentrate on abstinence! The “at risk patients” will soon move from ladies and gents of the night,nurses and HIV (-) spouses of people living with HIV/AIDS to teenagers in school.
    We haven’t even delved into the risk of the virus developing resistance to these drugs if the patient doesn’t comply with the rules set before him or her and goes ahead with a risky lifestyle (ask those living with the virus or even normal diabetes or hypertension its not beans to be popping a pill, a fat pill at that, everyday). The line of drugs used to control the virus are already limited why include another drug that might end up useless in controlling the virus.
    Yes I want a HIV free world but at the risk of making things worse for ourselves… I would rather the scientist come up with a cure rather than a ‘ a free to do as you will’ pill cause I know that yes there are patients who had no fault in getting the virus such as the innocent partners, or the babies, surgical theater accidents and all that.
    Sorry oh been vexed about this since I read the 1st stage approval by FDA.

  16. CA

    July 18, 2012 at 4:18 am

    I prefer abstinence. My body is the temple of the most high God. I don’t work in the medical field, thank God, so I don’t have to worry that I will be exposed to HIV through infected needles and human body fluids. Luckily, some of us are able to abstain so nothing dey happen!

  17. NNENNE

    July 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Universal precautions for healthcare workers please!Hope they practice that in Nigeria?
    The cost and side effects of Truvada are not worth it.
    BTW which health care wants to be on this drug everyday,given the side effects,just because of the possibility of a needle stick?

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