Don't Miss

HIV Prevention Pill May Cause More Harm than Good

By on August 6, 2012


Critics have raised concerns over the use of the recent United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug, Truvada, for the prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

They say the side effects of using Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) outweigh its benefits, as people will struggle to take it regularly.

PrEP is when people who are HIV negative take Truvada before or after exposure to the virus to prevent infection.

Before the approval of Truvada, the panel of advisers to FDA and critics were worried about how to make sure doctors and patients would use the drug correctly. Otherwise, they said, the potential harm could be huge – not just to those taking the pill, but also to their sexual partners.

The arguments against Truvada: First, if a person taking Truvada becomes infected, there is a greater chance that their HIV will be resistant to Truvada. Currently, Truvada is the backbone of successful AIDS treatment. The creation of Truvada-resistant strains of HIV is incredibly worrying.

Second, Truvada has serious side effects, including kidney damage and bone loss. These risks may be acceptable when a person has HIV or AIDS, but people taking PrEP are healthy. There will be healthy people who will not get the preventive benefits of PrEP, but who will suffer kidney damage and other harms.

Third, many people, thinking they are protected by taking PrEP, will abandon or reduce the use of other proven preventive measures such as condoms.