Q: I'm HIV negative, but my boyfriend is positive. We're fully committed to each other, but navigating our sex life is a constant challenge. But I just read somewhere that there's medication that not only treats HIV, but can help greatly reduce risk of HIV infection for negative people. Am I a candidate for this medication and how do I get it? Thanks.
A: You are correct! Some recent studies have been published showing promising results with regards to antiretroviral medication helping to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Truvada, a medication currently on the market indicated for the treatment of HIV, has demonstrated efficacy in its use in pre-exposure.
This is encouraging news for individuals such yourself that are in a "mixed" HIV status relationship. I have talked to several patients who share your concerns, and I especially hear this from HIV positive patients, who are very concerned about the possibility of passing the virus on to someone they have fallen in love with and are committed to spending their lives with.
So based on the results of the iPrEx Trial (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Initiative) -- which you can read about in detail here -- there is reason to be encouraged. But that said, there is also reason for pause. I haven’t yet filled any prescriptions for this purpose and Truvada isn’t yet FDA indicated for this purpose. However, clearly you would be an ideal candidate for pre-exposure therapy, being you are in a relationship with an HIV-positive person. Ultimately, this decision is up to the patient and the prescriber. I urge you to contact your medical provider and discuss your options regarding this preventive treatment. Good luck. -- Heath P. Dobson Jr., BS Pharm, RPh