• In the survey, 61 percent of respondents believe that antibiotics are used to deal with colds and flu.

In the survey, 61 percent of respondents believe that antibiotics are used to deal with colds and flu. (Photo : REUTERS)

An anti-HIV pill called Truvada is getting renewed attention after recently presented studies showed gay men might not have to take it daily, but only days before and after sex. One new study confirms Truvada's effectiveness, while the other suggests it could be taken less frequently.

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Truvada is a pill that combines tenofovir and emtricitabine. It is part of an anti-HIV practice called "pre-exposure prophylaxis," or PrEP. Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes the daily practice of PrEP.

A British study, called PROUD, looked into 500 gay men and found that once-a-day PrEP is effective in preventing HIV infection, confirming earlier studies on the regimen. Another study, jointly done in France and Canada, specifically focused on a different schedule.

The French/Canadian study, called IPERGAY, found that a man who took two Truvada pills 2 to 24 hours before having sex with another man could remain HIV-free. However, the pre-sex routine should be followed with a post-sex intake of two more Truvada pills.

The IPERGAY study was launched in 2012, and 400 gay men were involved. The ratio was determined to be 86 percent lower risk for new HIV infection.

The new studies on HIV prevention were presented Feb. 24 in Seattle, at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the CDC has released a statement on the new studies, saying the once-a-day PrEP should still be observed.

"CDC welcomes the findings presented today by the IPERGAY and PROUD teams, which provide additional evidence of the power of PrEP to reduce the risk of HIV infection," Mermin was quoted as saying in this HealthDay report.

Despite the findings of the latest studies, however, the CDC "continues to recommend only daily use of PrEP, as approved by the FDA," Mermin continued, but he acknowledged that "even with less than perfect daily adherence, PrEP may still offer substantial protection [against HIV] if taken consistently."