By Luke Malone
First-time prescriptions for Truvada, the little blue pill used for HIV prevention, climbed over 300 percent in a one year period.
Truvada's popularity has been rising steadily since 2012, the same year the FDA approved its use a daily prophylactic pill. First-time prescriptions, however, skyrocketed 332 percent between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015.
Gilead, the drug's manufacturer, said 8,512 individuals began treatment between January 1, 2012, and March 31, 2015. The drug-maker believes the number is actually much higher since they don't have data from every pharmacy.
Truvada, which was originally developed as a drug to manage HIV, received national attention last year after a series of articles were published to debate its merits. The CDC states that the risk of contracting HIV for those in high-risk populations is reduced by 92 percent when it's taken consistently, which is usually one pill a day.
A recent study of 600 men who use PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, found that none had acquired HIV--though many subjects reported a decrease in condom use during the same period and half had contracted different STDs. Study authors, however, stressed that they can't attribute these infections directly to PrEP use.
"Our study is the first to extend the understanding of the use of PrEP in a real-world setting and suggests that the treatment may prevent new HIV infections even in a high-risk setting," said lead author Dr. Jonathan Volk, a physician and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center.
The drug received a further bump in visibility last week when How To Get Away With Murder became the first network primetime show to broach the topic, after a character discussed the drug with his boyfriend on the season's debut.
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