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Daily HIV prevention pill urged for healthy people at risk

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Woman taking a pill

Doctors should offer a daily Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) prevention pill to healthy people who are at high risk of getting infected with the virus, an influential health care panel recommended Tuesday.

The new guidelines aim to help cut new HIV infections.

Studies show that if people who are still healthy take certain HIV drugs every day, it dramatically reduces their chances of being infected by an HIV-positive sexual partner or from injection drug use.

The approach is called PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. One brand — a two-medication combo pill named Truvada — approved for preventive use.

The PrEP is recommended only for people at high risk of infection. That includes anyone with an HIV-positive sex partner; who has sex without a condom with someone at high risk of HIV; or who shares needles while injecting drugs.

The recommendations were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Other medical groups also urge Truvada for prevention, yet just 17 percent of people who might benefit were prescribed it last year, according to an accompanying editorial.

“How this recommendation will be implemented is of critical importance because cost is a major barrier,” Drs. Diane Havlir and Susan Buchbinder of the University of California, San Francisco wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine. They weren’t part of the task force.


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