Feb 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Drug preventing HIV infection finds support from largest U.S gay rights organization

Oct 20, 2014 12:15 PM EDT

Around 1.1 million Americans are HIV positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and approximately 50,000 new cases are recorded every year. Two-thirds of those affected are gay and bisexual men, and CDC said that transgender males are more likely to be afflicted with the virus.

While no cure has been discovered yet to fully eliminate the virus from an infected person's body, anti-retroviral treatments can suppress the virus from advancing to AIDS which compromises the person's immune system, making the infected highly vulnerable to deadly diseases. Other advance studies in HIV treatments and therapies have also made HIV+ individuals live normally, with extended and better lives.

However, lack of full understanding of the disease has led many not to undergo HIV testing to "escape" facing what-for-them is a harsh and life-crushing reality too unbearable to face.

In a unified campaign to control or minimize the spread of HIV, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay-rights organization, strongly endorsed the use of Truvada, a once-a-day pill that could prevent HIV infection. The drug, developed by Gilead Sciences, is normally used in combination with other drugs to treat HIV.

In a policy paper released by HRC vehemently pushing their stand for the preventive use of Truvada, they promoted the drug as "a critically important tool" in combatting HIV. The group also called on insurers to provide more generous coverage on the drug.

According to CDC, studies have backed the efficacy of the drug in terms of reducing the risk of being infected by HIV by up to 90 per cent.   Research also found that use of the drug does not encourage risky sex and is effective even if people skip some doses, as was discussed at the International AIDS Conference in July this year.

Truvada was first approved in 2012 by FDA as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). The basic aim behind the FDA's approval was to prevent the HIV transmission through sexual contact.

Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign president said, "Today, there is an unprecedented chance to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in part through PrEP's (pre-exposure prophylaxis) aggressive prevention of new HIV infections. . . .There is no reason - medical or otherwise - to discourage individuals from taking control of their sexual health and talking to their doctor about PrEP."

However, the group clarified that their recommendation "applies especially to populations deemed most vulnerable to HIV infection."

"Truvada is not right for all individuals, and any medical decision should be made in concert with a knowledgeable healthcare provider," the group said.

They also emphasized that Truvada does not provide protection against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

"With STDs such as syphilis on the rise, and with their capacity to lead to life-threatening conditions if untreated, it's essential for sexually active individuals to protect themselves and always engage in safer sex practices and get tested regularly," the group explained.

However, there are groups that oppose the promotion of the drug as preventive measure in contracting HIV. The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation said that government promotion of the drug is "a public health disaster in the making," particularly in situations when those taking the medication fail to adhere to the once-a-day recommended dosage.

Some doctors view that the promotion of the drug would even encourage high-risk, unprotected sexual behavior, which might lead to higher chances of contracting the virus.

More: HIV, AIDS, Truveda
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