In a move hailed by advocates as pivotal in the 30-year battle against AIDS, the Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved for the first time a drug for preventing infection by the virus that causes the disease.
The FDA greenlit the drug, Truvada, for people at high risk for HIV — namely, men who have sex with men and partners of people who carry the virus.
Margaret Hamburg, the FDA commissioner, said in a statement that the approval “marks an important milestone in our fight against HIV,” which infects some 50,000 people each year in the United States, a figure that has remained stubbornly steady for nearly two decades.
I specifically wanted to pull out the following bit:
The challenge now, advocates say, is getting the expensive drug — it costs as much as $11,000 a year — to the groups in the United States who are at the highest risk for HIV: gay men in general and gay young black men in particular. Black women are also at higher-than-average risk.
Which is an interesting line to me because young black MSM don’t demonstrably participate in ‘risky behaviors’ any more often than non-black MSM. Which brings out the question of why this group is more vulnerable to HIV, and it uncomfortably points at health care systems.
The opening paragraphs of this article cites the ‘stubborn’ infection rate in the U.S. which makes it sound like the disease itself is conscious and responsible, or vague circumstance, or being black and gay itself, and not issues with health care access and punitive anti-people-with-HIV laws.
I don’t really agree with people who say that the new drug will create a false sense of security for people who don’t follow the regimen correctly is sufficient reason to not approve Truvada. I think the issue of continuing to contribute to the development of drug-resistant virus strains is real (my thoughts on it seem irrelevant here; it’s a reality).
And I don’t want to undercut the boons Truvada will provide to people, which is exciting in itself. But I do think it takes is a lot more beyond releasing a new, expensive drug to address this issue domestically and internationally, especially as Ryan White funding (which goes to programs with services for people with HIV) has been cut around the country.
ALSO! I didn’t realize the ‘same’ article is different whether you read them in the Business section or the Health & Science section.