Reuters Examines Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Therapy TrialsReuters on Wednesday examined ongoing research on an experimental approach to HIV prevention, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, in which HIV-negative people receive antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV transmission. Several new clinical trials are investigating the potential of tenofovir and Gilead Sciences' combination pill Truvada for possible PrEP uses. Researchers are conducting studies in Botswana, Peru and Thailand. In addition, CDC is conducting studies in Atlanta and San Francisco that are testing the "potential side effects of the medication for the healthy, as well as any effects on behavior," Reuters reports. The study, which aims to involve 400 participants in the two cities, has enrolled about 200 people, according to Reuters. "The population that might benefit from this is huge," Howard Jaffe, president of the Gilead Foundation, said, adding that the company would not market the drug as a prophylactic because of liability concerns and because insurance companies are unlikely to cover such a use. "I think we have probably a reasonable assurance that the drugs are safe," Thomas Coates, an HIV prevention expert at the University of California-Los Angeles, said, adding that the "million dollar question" is effectiveness. According to some medical experts, if PrEP is found to be safe and effective, high-risk groups could take it for months or years. However, Albert Liu, director of the CDC PrEP studies in Atlanta and San Francisco, said, "We would never recommend that it be used as an excuse or a reason to have unprotected sex. ... We would offer it in addition to proven prevention strategies." The results of a recently completed PrEP trial in Ghana will be presented next week at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Reuters reports. According to Retuers, some past PrEP studies have been controversial, and Cambodia, Cameroon and Nigeria have halted or pulled out of trials (Tanner, Reuters, 8/9).
The XVI International AIDS Conference program is available online.
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