In LA, CDC advice to take HIV prevention pill gets mixed reviews

The CDC is throwing its weight behind an HIV prevention pill called Truvada.
The CDC is throwing its weight behind an HIV prevention pill called Truvada.
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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that a pill called Truvada be taken daily to help prevent HIV among people at high risk of contracting the disease. In Los Angeles, reaction among AIDS activists is mixed.

Antonio David Garcia, director of policy and community building for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, sees the pill as another tool to prevent HIV, and possibly slow the country’s HIV epidemic.

“I am taking Truvada, in addition to condom use, and it only helps to protect myself, and we believe it helps to protect the community against the HIV virus,” Garcia said.

That’s how the CDC intends the pill to be used. The agency also recommends people on Truvada get regular testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and counseling to reduce sexually risky behavior.

But Whitney Engeran-Cordova, senior director for public health at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in LA, is concerned that not everyone who uses Truvada will be sexually responsible.

“We’re just really worried that people are going to feel like this is a shield and they don’t need to use condoms,” Engeran-Cordova said.

He’s worried that people won’t take the pill every day. And, unlike condoms, it doesn’t prevent against sexually transmitted infections.

The CDC’s recommendation affects hundreds of thousands of people, including gay men with multiple partners or an inconsistent history of condom use; people with an HIV-positive sexual partner; and intravenous drug users, among others.

It’s made by Gilead Sciences, and is covered my most insurance programs.