-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- A once-a-day pill to
prevent HIV infection could significantly reduce the spread of the
AIDS-causing virus, but would only be cost-effective if limited to
men at very high risk for HIV infection, according to a new
Stanford University researchers created an economic model to
analyze the use of the combination drug tenofovir-emtricitabine
(brand name Truvada). A clinical trial found that the drug reduced
a person's risk of HIV infection by an average of 44 percent when
taken daily. In some people, the drug reduced the risk by 73
But the drug is expensive -- $26 a day, or $10,000 a year.
The economic model focused on men who have sex with men, a group
that accounts for more than of the 56,000 new HIV infections a year
in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
The researchers found that giving the pill to all U.S. men who
have sex with men would cost $495 billion over 20 years, compared
to $85 billion if the pill was given only to gay men at
particularly high risk for HIV infection -- those who have five or
more sexual partners in a year.
Without the use of the anti-HIV pill, there would be more than
490,000 new HIV infections among gay men in the United States over
the next 20 years. If 20 percent of men who have sex with men took
the pill daily, there would be nearly 63,000 fewer infections over
the next 20 years. If 20 percent of high-risk gay men took the
pill, there would be 41,000 fewer infections over 20 years, the
The study is in the April 17 issue of
Annals of Internal Medicine.
Giving the pill to high-risk gay men represents good value,
according to study first author Jessie Juusola, a Ph.D. candidate
in management science and engineering in the School of Engineering
at Stanford University.
"However, even though it provides good value, it is still very expensive," she said in a university news release. "In the current health-care climate, (these) costs may become prohibitive, especially given the other competing priorities for HIV resources, such as providing treatment for infected individuals."
Cost could be significantly reduced if the pill is found to be
effective when used intermittently rather than daily. Clinical
trials are under way to assess the drug's effectiveness when it is
used less often than once a day.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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