The New England Journal of Medicine recently released the results of a ground-breaking trial of an HIV-prevention method called oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Data from the trial revealed an almost 44 percent reduction of new HIV infections among participants who took the antiretroviral tablet daily to prevent HIV, compared to those who took the placebo pill.
Participants in the study included 2,499 HIV-negative gay men, transgender women, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and the United States; these were randomly chosen to receive the antiretroviral (ARV) drug TDF/FTC (brand name Truvada) or a placebo pill. Regular HIV tests were administrated throughout the study. At the end of the trial, 36 participants who took Truvada had become infected, compared to 64 of the participants who took the placebo pill.
Similar trials are currently being conducted among heterosexuals in Africa and injection drug users in Thailand. Additionally, a trial of a similar ARV in gel form is currently being tested in three US cities, Pittsburgh, Boston and Birmingham, Alabama.
Global Health Progress is encouraged by the outcome of this trial, as it could lead to the prevention of HIV in developing countries and around the world. However, additional funding is needed not only to continue developing drugs like this, but to increase access to medicines around the world. As the world of medicine continues to advance, it is the responsibility of the entire international community to facilitate access to medicines. Success depends on all sectors working in partnership; not only to make medicines more accessible, but also to ensure continued innovation into new medicines for the treatment and prevention of all diseases.
Research-based biopharmaceutical companies help the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic by providing millions of doses of anti-retroviral drugs at discounted prices and, in some cases, for free to patients in developing countries. These donation programs for Least Developed Countries and sub-Saharan Africa, together with programs for lower and middle income countries, apply to more than 87 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
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