First FDA-Approved HIV Prevention Medication Causes Controversy

Jun 9, 2014

Controversy surrounding Truvada, the first prescription medication for HIV prevention, has grown since its approval by the FDA in 2012.
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The CDC now recommends that people who are at risk for HIV and AIDS take a daily pill called Truvada, a prescription medication that was approved by the FDA for HIV prevention in 2011, along with using a condom. 

"We've tried a lot of different tools over the years," says Jeremy Turner, the director of housing services at the Damien Center in Indianapolis. "Truvada is coupled with all of those things that we have always promoted...Traditionally, behavioral interventions were the main focus, coupled with regular routine testing."

Truvada has been used as a treatment of HIV for a long time, says Susan Murphy, a medical case manager at the Damien Center.

While some high-risk patients aren't aware of Truvada or can't afford it, others take it as a "party drug," according to Murphy. She is concerned that some patients are not, and will not, take it daily as they should, which decreases its effectiveness. 

“Somebody who uses condom and Truvada has a very low chance of getting HIV," says Murphy. Some are concerned that patients will discontinue using condoms once they start taking Truvada. "The fact is many people aren’t using condoms, anyway."

From experiencing issues with bone density and kidney function to becoming immune to the medication, the medication has an extreme impact on the body. 

“Truvada is for a very specific high risk individual," says Turner. "So folks listening who don’t have these high-risk behaviors but are just concerned that they would not want to be infected should not consider this as a meaningful or good option."