Sunday, March 11, 2012

AIDS Drug Re-Evaluation

In April of 2011, an AIDS drug- Truvada- was pulled from clinical trials after several African women participants were getting infected with the virus. These participants were in relationships where their male partners were infected with the virus.

This week, however, scientists at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections showed that the results may not have come from a lack of efficacy on the drug's part. Blood samples taken from the participants revealed that only one in four women who had gotten infected during the trials had any trace of Truvada in their blood- suggesting the pills were never taken. This new information leaves researcher and physicians alike with conflicting feelings- on one hand, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis may decrease one's probability of viral infectivity, on the other, even if the stated case is true, behavioral choices may prevent these forms of preventative care from working. The behavioral choices may be influenced by social norms and stigmas- the presence of AIDS medication in several African regions (as well as regions worldwide) have negative stigma associated with them.

In the United States, incidence rates have plateaued at approximately 50,000 annual cases with a good portion of these cases being identified as black women from lower socio-economic statuses. New efforts have been implemented aimed at proper screening and diagnostics for "at-risk" groups including the Center for Disease Control's new "Take Charge. Take the Test." initiative.

-Angela CeseƱa


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