HIV medication may reduce the risk of infection
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While anyone who does not practice safer sex is at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or HIV, some populations have a greater risk than others. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 and men who have sex with men have a higher chance than others of contracting an STD. This is why it's so important for these populations to practice safer sex. Recently, a study from Stellenbosch University in Tygerberg, South Africa conducted a study which suggests that these individuals may want to take HIV medication as another way to reduce their risk of acquiring the virus.
According to the scientists, uninfected people whose partners have HIV and individuals who have a high chance of contracting the virus may be able to reduce their risk of becoming infected if they regularly take drugs that are normally prescribed to treat people with HIV.
The researchers analyzed six trials that tested the protective effect of daily doses of the oral antiretroviral drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) with or without emtricitabine, another HIV drug. They found that using both the medications reduces HIV risk by half. Furthermore, two trials showed that TDF alone reduces the risk of HIV infection by nearly two-thirds.
"Our findings suggest that antiretroviral drugs can reduce the risk of HIV infection for people in high risk groups," said lead researcher, Charles Okwundu. "However, in the search for highly reliable HIV prevention strategies, it is important to determine how pre-exposure prophylaxis can best be combined with existing programs, as no strategy is likely to be 100 percent effective."
While these results are promising, the best way to avoid developing HIV is to practice abstinence or safer sex.
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