• pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) (Photo : YouTube)

Gilead's Truvada (tenofovir-emtricitabine) pill which is approved in the U.S. to treat "pre-exposure prophylaxis" (PrEP) caused by the AIDS-causing HIV, is now showing signs from prior studies that it can reduce infection risks.

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The new drug  yielded successful results under controlled clinical trials, comparing the effects to a placebo however, many are still skeptical to Truvada's effectiveness if applied within a real world setting. Scientists are also concerned about this HIV prevention pill that could offset the benefits of the medication.

Now, two new studies reveal that the pill works in the prevention of HIV however, this breakthrough medication is not designed to cure the deadly disease.

One study involved 657 people from San Francisco where most of them are gay or bisexual men between the ages of 20 to 68 years old who took Truvada everyday for three years spanning 2012 to 2015. The results revealed that during this time of the study, none of the participants contracted a new HIV infection although half them contracted new sexually transmitted infections. This high rate of STIs suggests that the volunteers were engaged in multiple risk sexual practices.

In another study, researchers aimed at gay men and revealed that those who began taking PrEP had lower incidence in new HIV infections compared to those participants who took the pill a year later. Those who used PrEP yielded only two in 100 people who had new HIV infections where as nine out of 100 people for those who waited a year before using the drug.  

According to Sheena McCormack from the University College London, this impressive result in reduced HIV infections for people taking PrEP without any increase in STIs is a reassuring sign for the clinical and local community and public health system. 

Truvada is considered to be a combined therapy of two medicines included in one pill. The drug focuses on making it difficult for the virus to multiply inside the body. HIV works by targeting CD4 cells or T cells where it multiplies inside of them. When the HIV multiplies, the new cirus will go into the blood stream to infect other CD4 cells that are responsible for sustaining the body's defense mechanism.

Truvada works by blocking the enzyme called reverse transcriptase found in HIV-1, making it hard for the virus to multiply further. This in turn, prevents HIV-1 from spreading where the drug lessens the viral load and decreases the amount of HIV carried into the blood stream. Truvada also helps increase more CD4 cells when it is used with another anti HIV1 medicine.

The new findings are published on the journals, Clinical Infectious Diseases and The Lancet