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Local Health Officials Lend Support To HIV Prevention Drug

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Health officials in Dayton are putting their support behind an HIV prevention drug out on the market.   

Once used to treat HIV positive individuals, the drug Truvada was approved by the Food and Drug Administration three years ago as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or 'preventative' medicine for people who are HIV negative.

Last year the Centers for Disease Control joined the FDA in their support, now, public health agencies doing the same. 

Jeff Cooper, health commissioner with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County calls the medication "an essential tool to help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in Montgomery County.”

Cooper says Montgomery County has lost 759 residents to HIV/AIDS since the disease became known in the early eighties. PHDMC says more than 1200 people in Montgomery County are living with HIV.  

Bill Hardy with AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) says that number could be as high as 1700, with another 300 or so infected but not been tested.

Hardy says Truvada can do what years of public health messaging has failed to do.

“Once a day pill—up to ninety-nine percent effective if you take this pill in keeping you from becoming HIV positive. It’s extraordinary. It’s the greatest leap we’ve had in 30 years to prevent HIV infections," he said.

Hardy stresses that Truvada is not a vaccine—it does have to be taken daily, and the drug is expensive but it is covered by Medicaid and many private health insurance agencies. He says there are about 130 people in Dayton currently using Truvada as an HIV prevention drug.

PHDMC and ARC Ohio will embark on a marketing effort in the next few months to try and get the word out to more people about Truvada.