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Drugs May Prevent HIV Spread Among Heterosexuals
Date:7/13/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Giving antiretroviral drugs to heterosexuals at high risk of HIV infection can significantly reduce the chance they will develop the AIDS-causing virus, two new studies suggest.

"This is an extremely exciting finding for the field of HIV prevention," said Dr. Jared Baeten, co-chair of one study and a University of Washington associate professor of global health.

Both trials were done in Africa. In one, a daily dose of Truvada, a combination pill that includes tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine, reduced the risk of getting HIV from infected partners by about 63 percent.

The other study found that two different regimens -- tenofovir, sold as Viread, and Truvada -- also reduced the risk of transmission through heterosexual sex.

Using antiretrovirals in this way is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Earlier research found that PrEP reduced HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men, but whether it could prevent HIV infection among heterosexuals was unknown.

A subsequent trial, reported in May, that involved heterosexuals found that people with HIV could reduce the risk of infecting their sex partners by more than 90 percent if they started treatment with antiretroviral drugs when their immune system was still relatively healthy.

The latest research includes a trial conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Botswana Ministry of Health. For that study, researchers assigned 1,219 HIV-negative men and women to a daily dose of Truvada or a dummy pill. All the participants also received HIV prevention services, including condoms, risk-reduction counseling and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, according to the CDC.

Nine of those taking Truvada became HIV-positive, compared with 24 of those taking the placebo. That is a 62.6 percent re
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