Jan. 27, 2011 -- The CDC has issued early recommendations for the use of AIDS drugs to prevent HIV infection of men who have high-risk sex with men.
The preliminary guidelines follow last November's groundbreaking report that daily use of the AIDS drug Truvada lowers men's risk of HIV infection. This strategy, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, can cut HIV risk by as much as 92% in men who take the pill every day.
But there's a catch. Several catches. For example:
Truvada has to be taken every day, not just prior to sex.
Truvada, like all HIV drugs, has side effects.
Drug-resistant virus develops in men who begin PrEP when already infected with HIV.
Truvada is expensive. Since PrEP is not an FDA-approved use of the drug, insurance may not cover the cost.
U.S. public health agencies are developing PrEP guidelines. But since the news is out -- and men already are asking their doctors whether PrEP is right for them -- the CDC today issued preliminary guidelines.
Since PrEP was tested only in men (and male-to-female transgendered women), PrEP should be given only to biological males. Men eligible for PrEP should be at high risk of HIV infection -- that is, they should frequently change sexual partners or have concurrent partners in a region with high HIV prevalence.