CDC calls for doctors to give HIV prevention pill to heterosexuals
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The recent finding that Truvada - a pill used to treat HIV- could also be used to help prevent people from contracting the virus, was a major step for the healthcare community. Originally, health officials advised doctors to give the pill to gay and bisexual men only, since these individuals have the highest rate of HIV infection. Recently, officials have changed their mind, and are now encouraging doctors to consider giving Truvada to hetrosexual men and women as well.
The Associated Press reports that more than one-quarter of new HIV cases in the U.S. each year are found in heterosexuals.
"That's not a portion of the epidemic we want to ignore," said Dawn Smith, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physician who was lead author of the new guidance, quoted by the news source.
Smith said that the CDC is not suggesting that all sexually active heterosexuals take Truvada. Rather, the pill may be helpful for couples who want to have a baby, and one partner is HIV-positive while the other isn't. If the pill is effective, the couple should be able to have unprotected sex and conceive a child without the uninfected partner contracting the disease.
The CDC estimates that 24 percent of all new HIV cases each year are found in women. African American women and Hispanic women, in particular, have a higher risk of contracting the virus. The organization adds that 1 in 139 women will be diagnosed with HIV infection in their lifetime. Since it is likely that women are contracting HIV from heterosexual men, it is important for doctors to consider giving a prevention pill to these individuals.
Truvada needs to be taken once daily, and can cost between $6,000 and $12,000 a year, though some insurance plans have been covering it.
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