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US experts back HIV prevention drug

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel approves daily pill Truvada for use in preventing HIV infection among healthy people
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte
Photo by C Goldsmith

A drug which can help prevent HIV infection has been backed by experts in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has approved Gilead Sciences Inc's Truvada for use in preventing HIV infection among high risk people, including gay and bisexual men.

It's the first time the daily pill, which is already used in treating HIV Positive patients alongside anti-retroviral drugs, has been recommended by the FDA for use on healthy people.

But despite the FDA's advisory committee voting 19-3 in favor of endorsing Truvada, some HIV experts are more cautious.

Will Harris, spokesman for sexual health charity the Terence Higgins Trust, said he welcomed Truvada as a means of preventing HIV transmission but worried about its use as an alternative to other methods.

He warned: 'We need to know if people at highest risk of infection are prepared to take a pill every day and whether there would be an increase in risk-taking behaviour which could outweigh the prevention effectiveness of Truvada.
'Whatever happens, condoms will continue to be the bedrock of HIV prevention as the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to stop HIV. 

'If you're worried that you've been at risk, get tested and look after your health.'

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