FDA Approves New HIV Prevention Pill, Unfortunately the People Who Need it Most Can’t Afford It

07/17/2012 9:39 AM |

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Good news: yesterday the FDA approved Truvada, a pill that drastically reduces the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus:

Truvada, a little blue pill taken once a day, was shown in clinical studies to slash transmission of the virus by up to 75%.

“This is a big step,” said Marjorie Hill, chief executive of the AIDS group Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “If people are looking for the magic bullet, the cure-all, we don’t have it yet. What we do have is an increasingly growing tool kit.”

Many HIV and AIDS researchers and activists say the pill is a promising way to reduce new infections, which have remained stubbornly high for years.

“It’s going to save lives,” Hill said. [LA Times]

The pill is already being used to treat patients with active HIV infections, but now it can be used to prevent new infections as well. Unfortunately, it ain’t cheap, which makes it inaccessible to many of the most at-risk populations.

“On the surface it’s something amazing, you can prevent HIV with a pill,” said Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive officer of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. “But then you start to dig deeper and it gets really complicated. When I get to the question of who pays for this I am completely dumbfounded. In developing countries, most of them can’t afford to give pills to those who are HIV positive.” [Business Week]

As with most things, I guess, it’s more exciting in premise than in practice, and primarily for the globally wealthy. It’s not exactly throw out the condoms time. Still, any progress is progress, right?