As countries all over the world are busy finding ways and means dealing with the wide spread of HIV and AIDs, South African Medicines Control Council have approved a pill called Truvada to help in the prevention of disease.
According to Times Live of South Africa, the council approved the drug at a recent November meeting.
The paper says the drug is already used in combination with another antiretroviral (ARV) as treatment for HIV‚ but has not been licensed legally for prevention.
The drug which prevents HIV works up to 100% of the time if taken daily was approved as prevention by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012.
The prevention pill has faced opposition in the US from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation which said it encouraged gay men to become promiscuous. The foundation called the gay men who used the drug “Truvada Whores”. The same foundation flew to South Africa to campaign against the drug at the Durban June Aids conference saying Africans would not take it properly.
According to the paper, Deputy Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Professor Linda Gail Bekker has campaigned for the licensing of the drug because she says it is cheaper and better to prevent HIV infection especially in high risk groups such as young women‚ sex workers and gay and bisexual men.
The drug is not freely available as prevention in the state sector. It is also not clear yet‚ if medical aids will pay for its use as prevention in high risk individuals.
Truvada has been used in South Africa with doctors prescribing it ” off label” for use as prevention but now that it is legally registered for prevention‚ it would be easier to prescribe to more people at high risk of HIV.
Two trials‚ one French and one in Britain‚ tested the drug with gay men using it “on demand” when they had sex. Both trials‚ PROUD and Ipergay‚ were stopped early last year.
This was because the trials showed the pills to be so effective in preventing HIV even when only taken four times weekly that it became unethical to continue the trials. In a trial‚ one group gets a placebo (sugar pill) while another group gets the real drug.