Back in September of 2012 the FDA approved the first daily pill for the prevention of HIV infection in persons at risk (see this blog Sept. 9, 2012).  The drug was hailed as a potential life-saver for healthy (uninfected) partners of HIV-infected persons and for healthy individuals who, by virtue of their behavior, felt that they were at risk of HIV infection.  In other words, healthy gay men.  Health officials had hoped that the drug might put a serious dent in the more than 50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. every year.

Alas, it just isn’t working out that way.   According to an analysis by researchers at Gilead Sciences, Truvada’s manufacturer, only about 1,400 new prescriptions for Truvada were written in 2013.  Surprisingly, nearly half of the new users were women.

Why are healthy gay men at risk for HIV infection not rushing to try Truvada?  A recent New York Times article describes some of the possibilities, including the drug’s price (about $1,000 per month), inadequate education and marketing, and supposedly even the stigma of being called a “Truvada whore”.  Whatever the reason, health officials (and Gilead Sciences) must be disappointed with the fact that new prescriptions represent less than 3% of the annual number of new HIV infections.   This drug is not yet reaching the people for whom it is intended…

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