A reader writes:
There are other realms in which Truvada is being used for HIV prophylaxis. I'm a dental student who sees patients daily for treatment. This past summer, I accidentally stuck myself with a needle that had been used with an HIV-positive patient.
No matter the precautions we take during injections, accidents happen. Thankfully, my school has a fund set up where I could get immediate, free testing for Hep B, C and HIV. Although my risk was minimal, I was put on a month's course of Truvada.
I have had followup bloodwork done at the six week and three month marks, and am advised to follow up at the six and twelve month marks, as well. These check to see if my immune system is making any antibodies to HIV, which would suggest I have been infected. As you mentioned in your post, the Truvada significantly reduces the chance of that infection.
All I can say is that for $100 in copay (I thankfully have insurance, as is required by my state and therefore included in my tuition estimate unless I opt out), I have peace of mind that Truvada significantly reduced the chance of my own infection, as well as my fiance's and our future children's. Pretty fantastic breakthrough for many, many populations of people who are at risk of an HIV infection.
Thanks for the piece about the exciting Truvada study on PrEP. But I also have to point out that an equally exciting discovery was published a few weeks ago and has not received as much news: "Researchers Unravel a Secret of HIV Controllers".
I have been positive for almost 11 years and have never taken any medications. My viral load is low (not undetectable) and my Tcells stay in normal range (600-1200) on their own. I've participated in as many research studies as I can in San Francisco, Sydney and now at the NIH. I've also contributed to the study above on HIV controllers.
From my perspective, giving fourteen vials of blood every couple of months to research is a small price to pay for being fortunate enough to not have to take HIV meds. I'm grateful every day to be less than 1% of the population of HIV positive folks who controls the virus on their own. I've also chosen to work in peer support for newly diagnosed gay men and harm reduction programs at the cost of my own career. It feels like I am meant to give back.
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