HIV Controversy: A Pill for Prevention?

Seen as a milestone by some, it recently became the first drug to be approved by the FDA to prevent the spread of HIV.

The president of the Aids Healthcare Foundation says it will ultimately set back years of HIV prevention efforts and many agree with him.

Theresa Nowlin contracted HIV in the 1980’s.

"I was like, walking dead," explains Theresa Nowlin an HIV patient.

Today, she is healthy, and to treat the virus she takes one pill a day made up of three medications.

"That has everything in it that I need," says Nowlin.

Her medication includes the drug Truvada. Now, the FDA has approved Truvada, by itself, to prevent HIV. Theresa's thinks it's an amazing step.

"It's going to make a difference in a lot of people's lives," says Nowlin.

Taking Truvada daily can stop the virus from replicating.

"So even if that one copy gets inside of a cell, it can't do anything," explains Kenneth Mayer, MD, of the Fenway Institute Medical Research Director.

While condoms are still the best protection, Doctor Kenneth Mayer of the Fenway Institute believes Truvada is another good option to fight HIV and could benefit couples where one partner is positive and the other is not.

"There are many people who have been concerned that this medication may increase risky practices," says Dr. Mayer.

"I am very leery of opening Truvada to everybody," says Scott Galinsky who is living with HIV.

Scott Galinsky is HIV positive and is worried the drug will promote bad choices, like unsafe sex.

"Coming from that community of risky behavior and drug addiction, I think it just kind of gives free reign to them," says Galinsky.

So is Truvada a positive or negative for the fight against HIV?

It seems that could depend on who you agree with.

Doctor Mayer says studies are being conducted to see if Truvada can be taken less frequently and still be effective.

If not covered by insurance, Truvada can cost $10,000 a year. But, when its patent expires in 2017, Mayer says the price could drop to $100 annually.

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