Truvada

Truvada / via Wikimedia Commons

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

There have been a number of recent high-profile news stories as well as some notable new research related to HIV/AIDS and its treatment and prevention.

First, AJN would like to add its voice to those expressing heartfelt regret at the deaths of a number of prominent and widely respected HIV advocates and researchers in the Malaysia Airlines jet that appears to have been shot down over Ukraine last week.

The Truvada controversy. Those who who died on the plane had been heading to an international conference in Melbourne, Australia, where one of the hot topics under discussion would be the pros and cons of the continuing expansion of the use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada beyond the treatment of existing HIV infection to long-term prophylactic use by the uninfected.

The topic is particularly timely here in New York where Governor Cuomo last week announced that New York State would make Truvada a centerpiece of its HIV-prevention strategy. The drug, taken every day, is more than 90% effective in preventing infection, but, as an NPR story recently described, a number of experts have raised concerns about widespread long-term use of Truvada for HIV prevention, noting

  • serious potential side effects of Truvada.
  • the $1,300/a month cost of the drug.
  • the reduction in the use of condoms by some of those taking Truvada, which could lead to higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Truvada debate is sure to be considered in relation to falling HIV diagnosis rates among some U.S. populations and “sharp increases” among others. A new study in JAMA has found the following, according to the Science Daily summary linked to above:

The annual HIV diagnosis rate in the U.S. decreased more than 30 percent from 2002-2011, with declines observed in several key populations [these include drug users and women 35 to 44 years of age], although increases were found among certain age groups of men who have sex with men, especially young men . . .

We’re sure to hear more about all these issues, some of which are touched upon in two CE articles we’ve published this year so far:

“Nursing in the Fourth Decade of the HIV Epidemic” (March)

“Addressing Health Care Disparities in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations” (June)

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