Drugs For Treating Aids May Prevent People From
Catching Aids
Author: Rick Hendershot

In one of the most promising developments in more than 20
years, scientists claim that drugs used to control HIV/AIDS in

patients may also be effective in preventing the disease in the
first place.

The drugs in question are tenofovir (Viread) and emtricitabine,
or FTC (Emtriva), sold in combination as Truvada by Gilead
Sciences Inc. Gilead is the California company best known for

inventing Tamiflu.

Previous research has been aimed at finding a vaccine against
HIV/AIDS, with the intention of conditioning the immune system
against the disease. But these drugs work differently. They
simply keep the virus from reproducing, and have already been
used successfuly by health care workers to prevent them from
being infected by the virus carried by patients.

This approach to fighting HIV/AIDS has been tempting

researchers for many years, but has only recently become
feasible as preventative drugs have been developed that are
safe for non-infected persons to take. Previous drugs had
unreasonable effects for uninfected persons.

That situation changed when Tenofovir came on the market in
2001. Tenofovir is powerful and safe, and it only has to be
taken once a day. It also does not interact with other
medicines or birth control pills, and manifests less drug

resistance than other AIDS medications.

** Monkey studies show exciting results

A major study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention) in Atlanta, Georgia involved six macaques. The
monkeys were given a combination of Tenofovir and FTC and then
administered a deadly combination of monkey and human AIDS
viruses. They were given the viruses in rectal doses to
simulate contact between gay men.

Each was given 14 weekly exposures of the virus, and none of
the monkeys became infected. In a control group which did not
receive the drugs, all but one got the disease, normally after
just two exposures.

The scientists then stopped giving the drugs to the test group
to see if the prevention was only temporary. The results were
equally impressive. None of the monkeys contracted the disease.
“We’re now four months following the animals with no drug, no

virus. They’re uninfected and healthy,” reported a CDC
researcher.

Now other research teams are pushing to have this drug
combination tested on humans. A $29 million CDC study of drug
users in Botswana will now be switched to this new drug

combination.

Another study of 400 heterosexual women in Ghana by the Family
Health Initiative, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, is studying the effects of tenofovir alone.

But several other studies have failed to materialize because

studies of this nature immediately raise suspicions that
scientists are using local people as guinea pigs. The fear is
that they will intentionally expose the test subjects to the
virus.

The cost of tenofovir and Truvada also make testing difficult.

In African countries condoms are now liberally donated by
companies, aid groups, UN agencies, and western governments.
While the drugs are relatively cheap, the cost remains an
impediment.

Nevertheless researchers have been reinvigorated by the

stunning results out of Atlanta, and new tests are going ahead
in pockets of interest around the world.

About The Author: Rick Hendershot publishes Linknet News —

http://www.linknet-news.com
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