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Home News Health Originally published August 22, 2013

FDA Approves New Drug to Combat HIV Infection

by Alexis Taylor
AFRO Staff Writer

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    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Courtesy Image)

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The Food and Drug Administration recently added Tivicay, also known as dolutegravir, to the arsenal of pharmaceuticals available to fight HIV-1 infections.

The drug is a daily pill meant to be taken along with other standard antiretroviral drugs. According to the FDA, Tivicay hinders HIV multiplication inside the body by obstructing one of the key enzymes essential to the process.

“This provides a new option for patients who have HIV,” said FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao. “HIV patients are normally treated with a cocktail of three drugs and these drugs are personalized to each patient as they are needed.”

Yao told the AFRO that, like any pharmaceutical, the effectiveness of Tivicay may vary from patient to patient, but having the new option is important.

“The product can’t make a claim to be better than other drugs—it’s just another drug that’s offered,” she said.

Four trial studies for the drug involved more than 2,500 participants. Side effects include insomnia and headaches. The drug has been approved for patients 12 and older that weigh at least 88 pounds, and is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Gay and bisexual men of every color are still impacted by HIV at a sharply disproportionate rate according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“While Blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for almost half, or 46 percent, of people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2008, as well as an estimated 44 percent of new infections in 2009,” according to a release from the department. “HIV infections among Blacks overall have been roughly stable since the early 1990s.”

According to Health and Human Services statistics, at least one American citizen is infected with HIV every nine minutes and 30 seconds.

Thirty years after the HIV and AIDS epidemic first swept the globe, basic prevention methods remain the same. Condoms should be used during anal, oral, or vaginal sex. HIV can be spread through contact with blood, pre-seminal fluid, semen, and breast milk.

These materials can transmit the virus through broken or cut skin, making skin integrity very important.

Scientists are also studying the effects of exposure to HIV medications among people who have not contracted the virus in efforts to come up with a vaccine. HIV testing is imperative to stopping the spread of the virus, as partners who know their status are able to take better preventative measures when engaging in sexual activity.

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