CDC Recommends Pill For HIV Prevention

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For years, doctors said the best way to prevent HIV was to use condoms. Now, the CDC is recommending a daily pill for people at high risk of infection. News4's Doreen Gentzler reports. (Published Thursday, May 22, 2014)

    Individuals at high risk for HIV are now able to take a CDC-recommended pill to protect themselves from the potentially deadly virus.

    According to Whitman Walker Health, a D.C.-based health center specializing in HIV/AIDS care, 87 percent of gay men aren't using condoms.

    "That's such a large percentage of the population," Dr. Raymond Martins with Whitman Walker said. "They would really benefit from another potential method."

    Martins told News4 those statistics prompted the Centers for Disease Control to recommend those at high-risk to start using the drug Truvada daily -- a method called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

    "For people who took it, up to 95 percent of the time, it was shown to be effective," Martins said. 

    Martin pointed out some critics are worried the pill could give a false sense of security.

    "There have been a number of people in the community, especially the medical community who have kind of been against pre-exposure prophylaxis, thinking it will increase unsafe sexual behavior and just risk-taking behavior overall," Martin said.

    Kyle Murphy, 31, has been using Truvada and says he's happy with the added layer of protection.

    "It's not necessarily going to change anyone's behavior. We already know that folks aren't using condoms as often as they should be or as they need to, so I think PrEP is just another option for folks to take care of themselves," Murphy said. 

    Martins said an increase in STDs hasn't been reported.

    The drug has side effects, including decreased kidney function, and retails between $1,200 and $2,000 for a 30-day supply.