Tuesday, October 18, 2011

News Brief: Questions on Tactic to Prevent H.I.V.

Joseph St. Pierre

Recently, three clinical trials have shown that the antiretroviral Truvada, when taken daily, can protect individuals from being infected with H.I.V. A pilot program known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is in its planning stages by researchers in San Francisco and Miami. During this program, researchers plan to enroll as many as 500 uninfected men have of sexual relations with other men in which each participant will be asked to take Truvada daily. In particular, the program will aim at younger gay men and African-Americans, who are considered to be at greatest risk.

However, questions are already popping up amongst the scientific community regarding the program’s effectiveness and ethical standing. While AIDS advocates hail the method as a way to check the spread of H.I.V, others wonder if the drug will prompt an increased frequency of unprotected sex even when prescription instructions are not followed. AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles president Michael Weinstein remarked that even in first round trials of PrEP, participants extensively counseled that failure to follow protocol could risk infection still sometimes failed to take the drug on the required daily basis. In addition, Truvada costs considerable money to produce, which could prevent those unable to afford it from receiving the 90% protection chance the drug provided in clinical trials. Ultimately, proponents of the drug agree that it would be unethical to discontinue trials and research on the drug, given its potential in slowing the spread of AIDS epidemic.

Reference: Tuller, David. "Questions on Tactic to Prevent H.I.V." The New York Times. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/health/11hiv.html?_r=1&ref=research. Oct 10 2011.
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