By Smriti Rana:
A pill that has long been used to treat HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), has moved one step closer to becoming the first ever drug to prevent healthy people from contracting HIV. Recent reports of the FDA approving of it to be used as a preventive measure, has made thousands happier. If approved by the FDA panel, this will be a radical discovery. Gilead Sciences’ “Truvada”, a combination of two drugs Emtriva and Viread (both used in the process of curing HIV in earlier times) has been in use since 2004. Persons infected with the HIV virus have been using Truvada for treatment for a while now, but the fact that it could be a potential preventer of HIV contraction was unknown till 2010.
Extensive research has revealed that it decreases the risk of contracting HIV during intercourse by 44% in gay males and recently, 75% in heterosexual couples. Trials in Uganda and Kenya were held at a large scale, with one partner who is HIV infected and one who is not. They were divided into two groups. One group was given placebos and one Truvada. These trials reaped positive results, with the group having Truvada getting infected at a much lower percentage compared to those on the placebos. This more or less confirmed that Truvada is the closest answer we have to a “vaccination” for AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
I think this is no small achievement. This is a step closer to ridding our world of the monstrosity that is AIDS. HIV is a fatal virus that once contracted can not be cured and may lead to AIDS. AIDS is a disease which attacks the human immunity system. It slowly rots the immunity system, so much that the body can’t even fight a cold or fever. Death is fairly certain on being diagnosed. The number of people with this disease are more than 50,000 in the United States alone.
Taking the drug has shown no harmful side effects and has been effectively and extensively researched. So it’s safe in that way. If nothing else, it can act as just another precaution along with condoms inter alia. The disease has spread like an epidemic and needs to be controlled. I see nothing negative about this development at all. Even if it’s not 100% effective, it’s much better than anything else we have in this area. So many lives could be saved.
With AIDS being nearly impossible to cure, a preventive medicine is like god’s gift. It’s nothing short of a miracle. If we actually think about it, we can’t eradicate the disease like smallpox. Why? Because not many options are available to the people and right now we’ll take anything that we can! Options mean hope. And without hope, we have nothing at all. The future seems just a little bit brighter for HIV infected people and those at high risk of getting infected.