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FDA approves first HIV-prevention drug

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For the first time, people at high risk for being infected with HIV can lower their chances with the daily pill Truvada.

In 2004, Truvada was approved in combination with another pill to treat HIV patients. On Monday, the FDA expanded use of the drug to prevent sexually-acquired HIV.

According to the FDA's website, the drug's approval was based on a study of HIV-negative people who were either homosexual, transgender, bisexual or heterosexual. Truvada lowered the risk for HIV by 75 percent in the heterosexual group and 42 percent in everyone else.

HIV is a virus that can establish and multiply in the body to destroy the cells that fight off viruses. Once enough cells are destroyed, the virus turns into AIDS, which makes the body more susceptible to deadly infections. Truvada works by stopping HIV from becoming lethal.

Truvada is approved for those populations considered the highest risk for HIV. According to the AIDS Alliance, these include homosexual males, prostitutes, people who inject drugs, and those whose partner’s HIV status is unknown or known.

Not everyone is a fan of the drug’s new use. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation posted on its website that the FDA’s decision is reckless and that the drug will increase the likelihood that people will begin to have unprotected sex. The agency is also concerned that patients in developing countries with access to the drug will be forced to sell or share it with other at-risk individuals.

The FDA is aware of the careless behaviors that may arise with the drug and has stated that Truvada is meant to be used as part of a “comprehensive HIV prevention plan.” According to the FDA, Truvada must be taken daily and the person taking it must be HIV-negative. It is also required that the patient practices correct condom use, attends risk-reduction counseling, gets tested frequently for HIV, and undergoes treatment for any other sexually transmitted diseases.