A Pill a Day Keeps HIV Away

HIV prevention is effective when taking Viread or Truvada

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A condom is just one essential tool protecting against sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Are there other therapies for HIV-infected individuals in a committed relationship?

Previous research published in May 2011, indicates that when an HIV-infected person takes antiretroviral drugs in the early stages of the infection, it protects the sexual partner against infection.

Now, a large study conducted by the University of Washington finds that individuals in a sexual relationship with a partner infected with HIV, can take either tenofovir (Viread) or tenofovir with emtricitabine (Truvada) and receive protection against HIV infection.

Antiretroviral drugs help prevent HIV infection too.

Jared Baeten, M.D., co-chair of the study and a University of Washington associate professor of global health and medicine reports that this is an extremely exciting finding for HIV prevention because the research is now focused on prevention in populations that have the greatest need.

Connie Celum, M.D., the principal investigator and UW professor of medicine, explains that this is the largest study showing Viread and Truvada prevention effectiveness. Dr. Celum recommends they become an important tool in global HIV prevention efforts.

The study involved 4,758 couples from Kenya and Uganda, in which one partner had HIV and the other did not.

Of those enrolled, 33 percent  of the uninfected partners took Viread, 33 percent received Truvada and 33 percent received a placebo. Both the study participants and researchers were unaware which pill they were taking. All study participants received full access to HIV prevention services including safe sex counseling, free condoms, HIV testing, treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV infection monitoring. Compliance to taking the medicine was 97 percent.

Through May 31, 2011, a total of 18 HIV infections occurred in participants taking Viread, 13 among those taking Truvada and 47 in the placebo group. Thus, patients taking Viread had 62 percent fewer HIV infections than those in the placebo group and those taking Truvada had 73 percent fewer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 13, 2011
Last Updated:
July 19, 2011