Imagine a world where avoiding HIV was just as easy as taking an aspirin each morning. Sounds pretty great, right? That’s the promise of Truvada – a relatively new once-a-day pill that is 92% effective at combating HIV.
Researchers recently tested Truvada alongside aspirin to compare potential side-effects of daily use. Neither pill is flawless as part of an every day routine — just as aspirin is known to lead to thinning of the blood in some people, Truvada can sometimes cause dizziness, vomiting, and weight loss. When tested, the frequency of side effects between the two proved to be roughly equivalent. In fact, Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, and the lead officer of the study told BuzzFeed that, “As a Physician, I’ve seen people come into the hospital and die from aspirin overdoses – people can be allergic.” Klausner went on to say, “It really looked like I could say Truvada compared favorably, in terms of its safety profile, to aspirin.”
Truvada was approved by the FDA in 2012, and the CDC estimates that about 1.2 million Americans are at a high-enough risk for contracting HIV that they should be using the drug; but, to date, usage rates are far less than that. According to Klausner, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe a daily pill to otherwise healthy people:
A lot of the concerns I hear from providers are about safety. There have been continued voices saying, ‘Wouldn’t it just be better if people used condoms, or reduced their number of partners?’ Those are important strategies, but they don’t work for everyone.
Dawn Smith, of the CDC’s HIV/AIDS Prevention division, also noted in a 2015 study that a part of the problem in getting people to use Truvada is largely due to the fact that not many primary care doctors or nurses have ever heard of the drug.
Both Smith and Klausner hope that more doctors will educate themselves about Truvada — which they eventually hope to “make it the same price as aspirin,” too.
Via: BuzzFeed, CDC