Health officials Wednesday issued guidelines for the use of a pill to prevent HIV
infection among those at high risk of contracting the disease.
In its recommendations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF)
told healthcare providers to consider the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, an antiretroviral drug taken daily by intravenous drug users and men and women who are sexually active with multiple partners, who are known to be at higher risk for HIV infection.
The guidelines are based on a 2010 clinical study that found the drug Truvada, manufactured by biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences
, reduced the risk of HIV infection by more than 90% among patients taking the medication.
Truvada—a combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine—was approved in 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration
for preventive use, but is widely used in treating people already infected with HIV.
The CDC’s recommendations could have major implications toward efforts to reduce the annual rate of newly infected cases of HIV in the U.S., which has remained around 50,000 for more than a decade despite a 33% decline worldwide between 2001 and 2012, according to a report released last December by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (PDF)
. Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson