In what may be a radical breakthrough in AIDS prevention research, researchers have announced that taking a daily pill containing two HIV drugs can reduce the risk of contracting the disease by 44% – and by more than 70% if subjects take most of the drugs. The study included 2,500 high-risk gay men, but the researchers hope that the results will also be true for other populations.
In the wake of other potential preventive measures against AIDS, including a microbial gel that was shown to help protect women from contracting the virus, this is yet another step in the process toward medical prevention of HIV/AIDS. But it’s also important to realize that these medical solutions are not a cure-all, and that they need to be paired with sex education, contraception, and treatment.
As Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented, “No single prevention strategy is going to be effective for everyone, and it is important to note that the new findings pertain only to…men who have sex with men.”
But this is also a potentially revolutionary drug, assuming it works for other populations, which the researchers have no reason to believe it will not. A separate study is now under way for women. The subjects in this study will be followed for the next 18 months to monitor for long-term effects; the initial side effects, however, were mild.
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