When given to non-infected men, the antiviral drug Truvada can cut the risk of developing HIV by 86 percent.
A new trial has shown that the rate of becoming infected is dramatically reduced when healthy gay men take the anti-viral drug on a daily basis. The trial involved 545 high-risk men, men who actively have sex with multiple partners, that were divided into two groups.
From group one, which consisted of 269 men not being given Truvada or PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxisis), 19 became HIV positive. From the second group of 276 men who were being treated with the anti-viral drug, only three became infected over that year.
The study, which was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, showed that the rate of condemn use was not affected by those taking Truvada.
Medical director at the HIV/Aids Charity Trust, Terrence Higgins, said the drug could offer “another line of defense” with condoms and regular testing and “significantly increase” the fight against the virus.
Chief executive of the National Aids Trust, Deborah Gold, adds, “If we can stop people getting HIV by giving them PrEP, we have an ethical duty to do so.
Despite major advances in the fight against the virus, the rate of infection among sexually active men remains particularly high in the UK. Statistics show that 13 percent of gay and bisexual men in London are living with HIV.
The study was funded by the Public Health England and Medical Research Council, two government agencies.
The pre-exposure prophylaxisis drug, which is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs developed by Gilead, has been available to high-risk men in the US since 2012.
Although the cost of the drug is about $650 US (£423) per month, it needs to be offset with the lifetime cost of treating an HIV infected person.