AirTalk for December 31, 2013

Pill to prevent HIV hasn’t caught on yet

Daily Antiretroviral Pill Found To Protect Healthy From AIDS Transmission

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

SAN ANSELMO, CA - NOVEMBER 23: Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada are displayed at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California.

After 18 months on the market, a pill called Truvada that has been shown to prevent HIV has yet to be embraced by gay men. 

The pill is a combination of two antiviral drugs that have been used to treat HIV -- the medication would prevent infection using an approach called pre-exposure prophylaxis, but despite the support of health experts, the treatment has been met with indifference or even hostility.

From  January 2011 to March 2013 only 1,775 prescriptions for Truvada were filled, not including the ones for those participating in the drug’s research, and most of them were for women.

Why aren’t more gay men using these preventative pills? Are the drugs prohibitively expensive, or stigmatized? What’s the best way to prevent the spread of HIV and reduce risky behavior?      


David Tuller, academic coordinator for UC Berkeley's masters program in public health and journalism and frequent contributor to the New York Times and other publications.

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