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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs