Los Angeles Times (04.18.12) - Monday, April 23, 2012
Researchers announced on April 17 that California will take
part in a trial of a pill to slow the spread of HIV in the
state. Truvada, already approved to treat HIV infection, will
be prescribed to 700 gay and bisexual men and transgender
women in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach who are at
high risk of infection.
"With this new prevention pill, we have another intervention
to put in the arsenal to try and impact this epidemic," said
George Lemp, director of the California HIV/AIDS Research
Program with the University of California president's office.
The program awarded $11.8 million in state grants for the
prevention studies and for an outreach to get about 3,000 HIV-
positive Southern Californians to adhere to treatment.
University of California schools, local governments, and AIDS
service organizations are receiving the grants.
Although a study published in 2010 found that Truvada reduces
the risk of contracting HIV by 44 percent to 73 percent,
depending on how often patients took their medication, a
recent Stanford study showed the drug only makes sense
economically if prescribed to people at high risk, such as
those with multiple partners.
Phil Curtis of AIDS Project Los Angeles said more research is
needed to measure the effects of the approach in the real
world. In San Diego, researchers plan to use text messages to
remind people to take their pill. In Los Angeles, the level of
drugs in participants' blood will be regularly measured.
Critics say taking Truvada for prevention could lead to more
men not using condoms. "Men - gay, straight, bisexual - don't
want to use condoms," said Michael Weinstein, president of the
AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "That's universal. If they are
given another reason, then they won't."