On Tuesday, a federal task force said that patients at risk of being infected with HIV should be advised by doctors to take pills daily to protect themselves against AIDS. The US Preventive Services Task Force has come forward with recommendations for PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis for the first time as it’s highly useful in preventing AIDS, said Dr. Landefeld of USPSTF. The task force also renewed the 2013 global screening recommendation that would test all people aged 15-65 and especially pregnant women for HIV. It would have 2 benefits- remove the stigma associated with HIV testing and catch cases that’d otherwise remain undetected.
According to WHO, the AIDS virus infects 36m people globally and has been responsible for 35m deaths since the 1970s. In the US alone, 1.2m people are infected with about 40,000 new cases being added each year. PrEP, which has been available in the markets since 2012, can lessen risk of AIDS by 90% if used regularly. The CDC recommended it in 2014. Although an estimated 1.1m people should be using PrEP consistently according to researchers, only 78,000 people were found to be using it said the CDC.
People at higher risks of getting AIDS include- a non-infected person having an infected sex partner; transgender, bisexual or gay men who’ve recently had a sexually transmitted infection; bisexual and gay men who don’t make use of condoms while having sex; transgender or heterosexual women who avoid use of condoms during intercourse with high-risk sex partners like bisexual men or one who injects drugs; women who’ve had a recent case of STI; injecting drug users sharing equipments. The USPSTF stated that use of condoms reduces HIV risk by about 80% and that of other STIs as well. The federal task force adds that condoms should be used consistently, and if one fails to do so, PrEP should be considered. Use of drug cocktails controls and lessens risk of transmission from infected person to their sex partners. However, if the use of PrEP by an uninfected person further reduces risks isn’t known clearly yet.
Pills that have been known to produce positive results are Truvada, Gilead’s combination of 2 drugs, and tenofovir, which is used alone.