WASHINGTON (May 14, 2014) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit medical provider blasted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for its ill-advised decision earlier today to recommend the widespread deployment of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—the use of an AIDS treatment medication known as Truvada as a tool for HIV prevention in uninfected individuals.
In July 2012, the FDA approved a Supplemental New Drug application (SNDa) by Gilead Sciences for the use of its blockbuster AIDS treatment Truvada as an HIV prevention pill despite several clinical research trials that demonstrated uneven efficacy of the prevention strategy at best. Since then, approximately 10,000 individuals have been prescribed once-daily Truvada® (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) as PrEP to reduce the risk of HIV in uninfected adults. The CDC says up to 500,000 Americans could potentially benefit from PrEP and is issuing guidelines to doctors to encourage them to put many more patients on it.
“This is a position I fear the CDC will come to regret. By recommending widespread use of PrEP for HIV prevention despite research studies amply chronicling the inability to take it as directed, and showing a limited preventive effect at best, the CDC has abandoned a science-driven, public health approach to disease prevention—a move that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the fight against AIDS in this country,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF’s President. “What about other STDs like syphilis, which has seen a resurgence approaching epidemic proportions in some of the same communities that the CDC wants to target for PrEP? Despite CDC and FDA requirements for risk-reduction counseling and condom use while taking PrEP, the government-sanctioned widespread deployment of PrEP will be accompanied with a shift to condom-less sex. The CDC would be better advised to put its weight behind HIV testing and linkage to treatment for the estimated 20% of the 1.3 million people living with HIV in this country today who have never been tested for the disease. Finding those individuals and linking them into care and treatment would do far more to break the chain of new HIV infections and improve the public health than the CDC’s ill-advised recommendation to widely prescribe PrEP—a costly and powerful medication—to uninfected individuals.”