GOOD MEDICINE

STUDY: Gay Men With Lots Of Partners Should Take Daily Pill To Prevent HIV

A new study by scientists at Stanford University suggests gay men who have five or more sex partners a year could benefit from taking a daily pill to ward off HIV.

The study, cost-benefit analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at the costs involved with prescribing Truvada (tenofovir-emtricitabine) to men who had sex with enough men to put them in a higher risk category for HIV.

In a 2010 trial, Truvada was shown to prevent HIV infections in almost 75% of men who have sex with men (MSM) who took it regularly. Though right now Truvada is only available as a treatment for people with HIV, its maker, made by Gilead Sciences Inc, is trying to get approval to market it as preventative care.

But there’s a financial factor to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), as the strategy is called : “Promoting PrEP to all men who have sex with men could be prohibitively expensive,” Jessie Juusola, who authored the Standford study, told the Daily News. “Adopting it for men who have sex with men at high risk of acquiring HIV, however, is an investment with good value that does not break the bank.”

Here’s the math:

* Prescribing Truvada to all gay guys would cost $495 billion over two decades. But only prescribing it to high-risk gay men lowers the cost to $85 billion.

* Right now, the CDC predicts 500,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. the next 20 years. If 1 in 5  gay men took Truvida daily, it would prevent 63,000  of those.

* If even just 1 in 5 high-risk men took the drug, 41,000 new infections would be prevented.

So long as there wasn’t harmful side-effects, we say give ’em the drugs—It’s not often something saves lives and money.