THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health authorities on Thursday issued an "interim guidance" to help doctors and patients using Truvada, the once-a-day combination pill that was shown in November to help prevent the spread of HIV in high-risk individuals.
The guidance, from experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stresses that only gay and bisexual men at high risk for contracting the virus -- the same population included in the study -- should use the pill.
When used as a preventive agent, the medication should only be given to men who are currently HIV-negative and only as part of a larger prevention plan that includes testing for other sexually transmitted diseases, counseling and using condoms faithfully.
"While we think this is really a very important new tool in HIV prevention, it has only been proven safe and effective with men who have sex with men, so at this point we don't feel we have the information to discuss its use for anyone other than [this group]," said Dr. Dawn Smith, lead author of the new guidance, which appears in the Jan. 28 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Even for highly sexually active gay and bisexual men, "it's not the first line of prevention," Smith said. "It's meant for men who are unable to successfully, consistently use standard methods of reducing their risk of acquiring HIV."
In essence, Truvada is "meant to function as a safety net in addition to those methods. So if a man can't use condoms consistently then maybe [Truvada] would be helpful while they improve condom use," Smith said.
Truvada is a combination of two anti-HIV drugs, emtricitabine (Emtriva) and tenofovir (Viread), included in a once-a-day pill. The pill is already available by prescription as a treatment for HIV infection.
A study published Nov. 25 in the New England Journa
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