CHICAGO May 14 U.S. health officials on
Wednesday issued new recommendations urging healthcare workers
to consider offering an HIV prevention pill to healthy
individuals who are at substantial risk for HIV infection.
The guidelines, issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service,
involve the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a strategy
in which at-risk individuals take a daily dose of an
antiretroviral drug to reduce their risk of HIV infection.
The strategy builds on a landmark 2010 study that found
Gilead Sciences Inc's Truvada - a pill already widely
used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus - was more than
90 percent effective at preventing HIV infections among test
subjects who took the drug as prescribed.
According to the new guidelines, healthcare providers should
consider PrEP for anyone who meets specific risk criteria, such
as being in a relationship with an HIV-infected partner or
having sex without condoms with partners known to be at risk for
HIV, such as injecting drug users.
The guidelines offer the first comprehensive guidance from
the CDC, replacing interim guidance that emerged after studies
showed PrEP to be effective in different patient populations.
The CDC now estimates as many as 275,000 uninfected gay men
and 140,000 heterosexual couples, in which one partner is
HIV-infected, could benefit from PrEP.
Some 1.2 million people in the United States live with HIV,
and new infections are estimated at 50,000 each year.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Tom Brown)