HIV Medication Prevents Infection With A 92% Success Rate

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HIV Medication Prevents Infection With A 92% Success Rate

Truvada: The pill and its commercial label and presentation as marketed in Denmark. Image credits: Fersolieslava / Wiki Commons.

Back in 2012, the FDA approved a medication by the name of Truvada. If taken daily, this particular medication prevents HIV infection by up to 92 percent. Truvada – technically called PrEP – was marketed for males who have sex with other males since they account for 83 percent of the infected. But research has shown that this HIV medication can help women as well. This is why various Washington organisations are trying to promote this drug to those who don’t know they need it or don’t know it even exists.

“This is all about empowering women, especially black women, by giving them sexual health options and also embarking on a path of research,” says Linda Blout, president of Black Women’s Health Imperative, a nonprofit organisation in Washington, D.C.

This organisation is preparing to launch a citywide campaign in order to promote the use of this drug, especially among women. According to the CDC, 62 percent of all women infected with HIV are African-American. White women make up 18 percent while Latinas make up 14 percent. And most of these infections come about through sexual intercourse, as opposed to needles or other injection-related cases.

The biggest problem here is that, besides the lack of information in some cases, many of these women also lack empowerment and cannot ask their partners to wear a condom or to get tested.

“A lot of the issue has to do with misinformation or simply not being informed at all,” says Nancy Mahon, executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund, which is providing financial support for the effort.

“When it comes to PrEP, many people still don’t even know it exists, especially heterosexuals. Many black women we’ve spoken to felt puzzled about why we were addressing how this drug is available to them. A component of the issue is that the drug is hard to obtain without a doctor.”

The thing is that HIV medicine is getting better and better, but incorporating it in society is a lot harder. It can take up to a decade since a particular drug is released onto the market before people accept it.

“The other problem here is that it generally takes five to 10 years for consumers to become socially acquainted with any drug,” McCray, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention says. “That’s why we’re trying to push the information associated with PrEP to the communities in dire need of it.”