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Truvada slashes HIV Infection Risk in ‘Breakthrough’ Study

This past week a study was released that showed giving HIV-negative men Truvada significantly reduced the percentage of them becoming positive.

About 2,500 trial participants were divided into two groups. One group was given Truvada, the other a look-a-like placebo. Both groups were also given condoms, counseling on safe sex, and tested for HIV and other STD’s once a month. They also returned their pill bottles to see how diligent they were taking the drug. The trial lasted a little longer than a year.

A total of 100 men contracted HIV during the trial, 36 of them were on Truvada and 64 were on the placebo. That translates into a 44% reduction in risk.

Truvada costs between $5,000 and $7,000 a year in the U.S. when purchased through the health care system and more if bought privately.

My Comments: Forgive me for being cynical, BUT we talked about this concept at least two years ago in group with a slightly different slant. The street has been using Truvada to prevent HIV infection for years as part of the Party-n-Play-Cocktail. The PnP-Cocktail consists of 3 drugs; Crystal Meth to get high and remove inhibitions, Vigra to keep an erection (Erectile Dysfunction is a common side effect of Crystal Meth) , and Truvada to prevent HIV infection allowing people to practice unsafe sex totally uninhiiBBited (BB= BareBack). By taking all three drugs, the idea is that you can stay up all weekend having unprotected sex and then go back to work on Monday HIV-negative.

Although the Gilead study is more scientific than the street experiment, I’m not sure a reduction of 44% over just a year is the “end of the AIDS” in the Gay community. Combining that with the cost of Truvada at $5-7,000/year and I also don’t put much faith in the idea that we have the tools “to break the back of the epidemic”.

We don’t know the long-term side-effects of taking Truvada or any anti-HIV medication over a lifetime. HIV is only 30 years old and these HIV medications are still within their patent period.

Even if Truvada became readily available at affordable rates, would Gay men who were using condoms, abandom them for Truvada? These are questions that need to be answered before we jump on the bandwagon that the AIDS epidemic is over.

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