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FDA May Approve Truvada for HIV Prevention, But Controversy Looms

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

On Thursday, the Food And Drug Administration will meet to decide whether Truvada, a drug which is used to manage HIV, should also be approved as a way of preventing the spread of the disease.

According to clinical testing, Truvada cuts down the rate of HIV infection in men who have sex with men by 44 percent when taken daily. It also reduces the risk a heterosexual with an HIV-positive sexual partner has of catching the deadly disease by 75 percent.

Despite these promising statistics, some AIDS advocates are hoping the FDA doesn’t approve Truvada for HIV Prevention.

“I think it will be a catastrophe for HIV prevention in this country,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Men don’t need more excuses to not use condoms.”

However, not all AIDS experts agree with Weinstein.

“It’s not a panacea by any means,” argued Dr. Barry Zingman, medical director of the AIDS Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “But there is still a tremendous fear of becoming HIV-positive, even when couples are using all the proper protection. When used in carefully selected patients getting significant support and close follow-up, it can clearly make a difference in people’s lives.”

If Truvada gets FDA approval, it allows it to be marketed for HIV prevention. It also makes it more likely that insurance companies will pick up the $11,000 a year tab for the drug.


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