The HIV drug combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine appears to be highly effective at preventing the acquisition of HIV. It’s a simple one pill daily regimen, and it is available for as little as 25 cents a day. This has the potential to be a major breakthrough in slowing the AIDS epidemic.
The problem with HIV prevention has always been that it requires major behavior change. It’s not easy to get IV drug users to use new needles, and it’s not easy to get people to abstain from sex, use a condom, or stick to a single partner. Sex and addiction are powerful drives.
Convincing people to consistently take a daily antiretroviral (ARV) pill is far easier. People without HIV can take the pill and reduce their risk of getting HIV by 73%. That’s huge. And it’s true for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. These two recent studies are based on heterosexuals, but there were trial results last year that also showed good results for men who have sex with men.
Now, combine this news with the news from May that treating people with HIV reduces the chance of them passing HIV to their partner by 96%.
So, people without HIV can take preventative anti-retroviral drugs to protect themselves from getting HIV. And people with HIV can take anti-retrovirals for their own sake and to protect their partners. This is a genuine game-changer. A massive push to expand ARV use could give us real hope in the fight against AIDS.
Now we just need the funding for that massive push.