For over a generation researchers have been searching for a medication that might successfully prevent H. I. V., the virus that may lead to AIDS. Last week cames news, finally, of a medication, Truvada, that may do just that. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the pill, according to the Associated Press, a "preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring AIDS through sexual activity."
If Truvada lives up to expectations, the spread of AIDS could be slowed significantly. The infection rate has held at about 50,000 new cases each year for the past decade and a half. 1,200,000 Americans are afflicted.
Gilead Sciences has marketed Truvada for eight years as a "treatment for those already infected" but the most recent studies show that the medication can stop H. I. V.'s contraction and blunt its spread. "A three-year study showed that Truvada", taken every day and without missing a dose, lowered the risk of contraction in bisexual and homosexual men by 42 percent when condoms are used in sex and when Truvada users also receive regular counseling. A newer study found, too, that Truvada cut the incidence of H. I. V. by 75 percent in heterosexual couples where one partner was already infected.
This is potentially terrific news for us all.
Absent proper insurance coverage, Truvada costs each person who needs the medication $11,000 each year...yet one more reason for the Affordable Care Act's thoroughgoing implementation, one more reason to understand that, one day, universal care will benefit the nation economically, and one more reason we must not rest until medical care here is a basic human right under law.