July 17, 2012- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved on Monday the first drug that has shown to help prevent HIV infection. The approval is a huge milestone in the more than 30-year battle against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The U.S. regulatory agency approved Truvada, a Gilead Sciences pill as a preventive measure for people at high risk of becoming infected with HIV via sexual activity like those who have partners who are already infected with the virus.
Advocates for public health said the approval would help slow down the spread of the virus, which has been flat at approximately 50,000 new infections each year for the last 15 years. Health experts estimated that 1.2 million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV, which can develop into AIDS if not treated with the correct medication. Over 240,000 American who are carriers of HIV do not even know they are infected.
The new pill can have an annual cost of more than $14,000 and has been marketed by Gilead since 2004 as a treatment for those people already infected. However, starting back in 2010, clinical studies showed the drug actually prevented people from being infected with HIV when used for precautionary reasons. A study that last three years, found that the risk of infection in healthy bisexual or gay men was reduced by 42% when daily doses were taken and sexual activity was accompanied by a condom.