San Francisco, July 16, 2012 — The fight against HIV/AIDS reached a watershed moment today when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drug to prevent the spread of HIV. The drug, Truvada, is approved for use by HIV-negative individuals at high risk for infection as part of a comprehensive prevention package that includes regular condom use, HIV testing, and risk reduction and adherence counseling. The strategy is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. When taken properly, Truvada has been shown in clinical trials to be up to 92% effective in preventing acquisition of the virus.
“Today’s decision by the FDA heralds a new era in HIV prevention—one with great promise for expanded access to HIV testing and prevention counseling and support,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “The approval paves the way for increased work with the federal government and Gilead Sciences to ensure they realize the incredible impact they can now have to get Truvada to the communities that stand to benefit most, especially gay men and people of color.”
In the United States, HIV infection continues to take a disproportionate toll on African-Americans and Latinos, gay and bisexual men, and people in poverty. Despite progress in reducing HIV incidence using other available methods, approximately 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV every year in the United States, and 2.6 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide in 2010. Driving down HIV infection rates is a primary objective of the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and is at the core of global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic.
“The groundbreaking decision by the FDA has widespread implications for efforts to stop the spread of HIV both here in the United States and beyond our borders,” said James Loduca, vice president of public affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Now the hard work begins to ensure that health care providers, clinics, and our community know how and when to use Truvada—and to ensure that price and delivery systems are never a barrier to access for anyone who stands to benefit from it.”
San Francisco AIDS Foundation believes the FDA action underscores the need for people to know their HIV status so that appropriate HIV prevention, treatment, and care interventions are made available to them. While the foundation welcomes the approval of Truvada for PrEP, it will continue to simultaneously fight for the availability of antiretroviral drugs for all HIV-positive people who need them.
San Francisco will host several upcoming demonstration projects and additional studies to determine the most effective PrEP strategies at the community level. San Francisco AIDS Foundation looks forward to supporting those studies so that PrEP is implemented in the best manner possible.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, visit www.sfaf.org.