A Bay Area test reveals Truvada blocks HIV transmissions

Truvada or emtricitabine and tenofovir were used as an antiviral drug for managing HIV. In 2012, the US FDA approved the drug to be used as a prophylactic drug in groups that have the highest risk of contracting HIV as gay men with multiple sex partners.

However, the move was followed by many questions about the effectiveness of the drug, or the prophylactic treatment will encourage risky behavior and other STD, which are treatable.  The drug went through a scrutiny of two large-scale clinical trials before it obtained approval. However, the impact of the drug in the real world is not known.

Kaiser Permanente, a private insurance company, had conducted a 2.5-year observational study that involved 657 persons, and the results were published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study showed the drug to be very effective in preventing HIV transmission. Patients normally took the drug for seven months. The report also answers a few questions about the impact of the drug on a person’s sexual behavior, such as the person is will have more sexual partners or forgo the use of condoms.

The FDA had initially approved the drug based on two large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. However, the trials did not focus on whether the drug alters the person’s sexual behavior.

The trials named iPrEx or the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Initiative was conducted in 2010. The study involved 2,499 HIV- negative men or transgender woman who engaged in behavior that put them in a high-risk category for HIV. Truvada, when used as indicated, was found to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 44 percent as compared to placebo.

The latest studies conducted by Kaiser Permanente revealed that Truvada user was in the range of 37 years, 99 percent were men who had sex with men. Truvada users are likely to have multiple sex partners but not more likely to report having sex with partners who are HIV positive.

After six months, 143 participants who were on Truvada were asked about their sexual habits. 74 percent of the participants said they did not change their sexual partners since starting the drug.  15 percent said they had less sexual partners, and 11 percent claimed an increase in some partners. 56 percent of the study partners said they did not change their condom use behavior since starting the drug while 41% admitted that they used condoms less frequently.