News / Africa

A Step Closer to Major HIV Prevention Method

Gilead Science's Truvada combination antiretroviral pill that's taken once daily.Gilead Science's Truvada combination antiretroviral pill that's taken once daily.
x
Gilead Science's Truvada combination antiretroviral pill that's taken once daily.
Gilead Science's Truvada combination antiretroviral pill that's taken once daily.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A U.S. government panel has recommended the use of a once daily pill to help prevent HIV infection. The pill has been shown to be very effective in studies. The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, now has until June 15 to decide whether to approve the panel’s recommendation.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee has endorsed the use of Truvada as a prevention method.

Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS advocacy group AVAC, says it’s a combination pill.

“It’s made up of two different antiretrovirals – tenofovir and emtricitabine. And those two drugs had already been approved by the FDA a number of years ago individually; and then about 8 years ago they were approved as the combination drug. But all of those approvals related to the use of the drug for treating people who are already infected with HIV,” he said.

But since it now would be used as a prevention method it needs new FDA approval.

Warren said, “It’s the first time that the FDA is considering a pill for prevention of HIV. The data presented came from a number of trials looking at the potential benefit of providing this drug to HIV uninfected people, who are at high risk of HIV in hopes of preventing transmission.”

The evidence is based on trials where participants included men who have sex with men and discordant couples. That’s where one partner is infected and the other is not. The prevention method is called preexposure prophylaxis.

“If you are at risk of HIV, if you perceive yourself to be at risk, if you’re able to take this pill everyday as part of a combination of activities, including getting frequent HIV testing, you can reduce your risk of infection quite substantially. And that’s a huge step forward in adding a new option for men and women to prevent HIV,” he said.

The FDA often follows the recommendations of its advisory committees, but approval is not guaranteed. The agency must consider a number of things before deciding. One is what would the drug label say? Would it list only specific high risk groups like men who have sex with men or recommend it for both men and women?

It also must require the manufacturer – Gilead – to produce a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy. This would help ensure safe and effective use of Truvada, including extensive training for health providers and testing to ensure people are indeed HIV negative before taking the pill.

Warren says another big issue affecting Truvada is cost.

“One often hears in the United States where this is described as a $14,000 a year pill. Rarely does anyone pay that. And one of the really exciting things – when Gilead presented all of the data they actually said publically that they plan to create a patients assistance program. So if you are HIV infected and don’t have insurance, there are programs that Gilead supports to make the drug available at very low cost or in some cases even free,” he said.

The drug would be much cheaper in developing countries, possibly several hundred dollars a year. But that’s still high by developing country standards. Warren says that price could be negotiated and reduced if PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, plan to use Truvada.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid