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AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome is the advanced stage of infection with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which is usually contracted by engaging in unprotected sex or by needle sharing.
In 2004, a drug called Truvada was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat people who have already been infected with HIV. Recently, however, the drug also earned FDA approval for use to prevent HIV transmission and AIDS in healthy or uninfected individuals.
HIV/AIDS, Still a Global Issue
HIV infection and AIDS continue to be a growing health issue all over the world.
Most of these individuals are gay or bisexual males, with blacks or African/Americans being affected eight times more than white individuals.
In 2011, about 2.5M new cases of HIV infection were reported worldwide, with 34M people already living with the disease. About 30M people have died of AIDS since the worldwide epidemic began in the 1980s. More than one million Americans have been diagnosed with AIDS and more than half a million have died of the disease since then. The biggest burden of the disease affects the Africans, but people from Asian, Eastern European and Latin American countries are also significantly affected.
Not all people who have been infected with HIV have AIDS and it may take several years for HIV-infected individuals to develop AIDS. Although there is still no cure for HIV infection and AIDS, drug treatment can help people maintain a healthy life.
What is Truvada?
It is not a new drug; it has been used since it was approved by the FDA in 2004, to treat people infected with HIV. Emtricitabine (trade name, Emtriva) is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor while tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (trade name, Viread) is a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor. These nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors are also called NRTIs, and are very similar, except that the latter is chemically preactivated, making it more easy for the body to use.
Truvada is used in combination with other HIV medications to control the infection. However, it does not cure HIV or AIDS. By reducing the virus load in the body, Truvada helps the immune system to work better, thus reducing one’s risk of acquiring new infections (opportunistic infection) or cancer.