US: CDC guidelines recommend more groups use PrEP for HIV prevention

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The Centre for Disease Control has updated its guidelines for a controversial HIV-preventative drug, expanding the list of groups recommended to take it.

According to studies, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by up to 90%, if preventative drugs such as Truvada are taken consistently.

Truvada was granted FDA approval in the US in 2012.

CDC Director Tom Frieden told the New York Times: “HIV infection is preventable, yet every year we see some 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States.

“PrEP, used along with other prevention strategies, has the potential to help at-risk individuals protect themselves and reduce new HIV infections in the United States.”

PrEP is recommended for:

– Anyone who is in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-infected partner.

– A gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months, and is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.

– A heterosexual man or woman who does not always use condoms when having sex with partners known to be at risk for HIV (for example, injecting drug users or bisexual male partners of unknown HIV status), and is not in a mutually-monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.

Last month the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Michael Weinstein attracted criticism for labelling Truvada a ‘party drug’, claiming it would wrongly be seen as an alternative to condoms.

He also condemned the CDC’s move today, saying in a statement: “This is a position I fear the CDC will come to regret.

“By recommending widespread use of PrEP for HIV prevention despite research studies amply chronicling the inability to take it as directed, and showing a limited preventive effect at best, the CDC has abandoned a science-driven, public health approach to disease prevention—a move that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the fight against AIDS in this country.”

The drug has to be taken orally once a daily to be effective.

At the moment in the UK, PrEP is considered an experimental prevention method.