Main | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

HIV Drugs Work To Prevent Infection In Mice

Two commonly prescribed HIV drugs have been shown to prevent mice from contracting the virus. One of the drugs, tenofovir (sold as Viread), is reportedly already being sold in gay dance clubs as an HIV preventive. Tenofovir is most commonly prescribed in combination form with Emtriva as the single pill Truvada.
After 25 years of researchers around the globe being confounded by HIV, scientists in Dallas have shown that the virus's transmission can be stopped with medications.

The scientific first, though performed only in lab mice, bodes well for a future when people at high risk for HIV infection would have a convenient way to protect themselves from the virus.

Even though the experiment – which involves two commonly prescribed drugs for AIDS – could represent a breakthrough in AIDS prevention, experts who have long advocated safe-sex practices are worried that people will seek these drugs without waiting for scientific proof from human studies.

"This has the potential to undermine years of safe-sex reinforcement and risk reduction," said Bret Camp, associate executive director for the Resource Center of Dallas, which operates several AIDS programs.

One of the drugs, tenofovir, is reportedly being sold at gay dance clubs on both coasts as a protection against HIV. Mr. Camp said he didn't know if the drug is also being used that way in Dallas, but he said it was likely.

"I'm sure it's happening everywhere, maybe to a lesser extent here than in other places," he said. But as word of this and other similar studies gets out, "there's a huge potential for abuse."

J. Victor Garcia, the UT Southwestern Medical Center microbiologist who led the study, said he does not want the study to be misinterpreted.

"This is a mouse experiment," he said. "It cannot, under any circumstances, be extrapolated to humans directly."
Underground rumors have long abounded that a pre-sex dosing with an HIV med can prevent infection, but the high cost of the medications has prevented such gambling from becoming widespread. A monthly supply of Truvada costs about $867. However, I've also heard stories of negative men poaching the unused supplies of friends.

Even if this mice study should prove similarly effective in human, it must be remembered that HAART is chemotherapy. Remember the story about the long-term effects of HIV meds? Popping a Truvada before sex, while it very well may eventually prove to be the most effective way to prevent HIV infection, seems an awfully harsh way to go about it.

Still, condoms fail, people fuck up, shit happens. Ultimately, this story IS good news, even if it rightfully worries the hell out of HIV activists.

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