HIV Combo Rx Found Safe for Teens

Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine) may safely reduce HIV risk in teen boys

(RxWiki News) An HIV combination medication that has already been approved to reduce HIV risk in adults can safely be given to youth, according to a new study.

This study evaluated the use of Truvada in teen boys.

Truvada combines tenofovir and emtricitabine and is currently approved for adults. The medication is approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) when taken once daily and used together with safe sex practices. Truvada is approved for adults who are at high risk of HIV and is taken to reduce infection risk.

“Several studies have shown that daily oral PrEP is effective in preventing HIV among people at high risk of becoming infected, but none of them included adolescents under age 18," said study author Dr. Bill Kapogiannis, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in a press release. "Our study suggests that this therapy can safely reduce HIV risk for those under 18."

The study looked at 72 males between the ages of 15 and 17 who were not infected with HIV but were considered at risk. The boys were given Truvada for 48 weeks and evaluated for the entire course of therapy.

The study found Truvada to be safe in this younger population. The researchers also concluded that Truvada can work in the younger population, if taken correctly, to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV.

However, these researchers found that many participants skipped doses of their medication. Many of the teens said they were worried others would see them taking pills and think they were HIV-positive.

The fact that so many participants skipped their doses revealed the need for more communication with health care providers and the need for a better approach to ensure teens take their medications as prescribed, according to the study authors.

During the study, three participants were diagnosed with HIV. None of these three participants had detectable blood levels of Truvada at the visit before they were diagnosed with HIV. This suggests they were likely missing doses or not taking the medication at all.

This study was recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health and NICHD funded this research. Two study authors disclosed ties to Gilead Sciences.