New study of HIV drugs calls into question early use

It’s an interesting ethical issue that someone brought to my attention a few months ago. And now a new study confirms it. From the SF Chronicle:

Patients who take one of the most widely prescribed drugs to treat HIV infection increase their risk of kidney damage by up to 34 percent every year they take the medication, according to a study of more than 10,000 HIV-positive veterans.

And it’s a debate that is likely to become more heated. For many HIV-infected patients, the benefits of taking tenofovir and preventing full-blown AIDS will far outweigh the risk of long-term kidney damage. But some public health experts have begun to promote the drug for healthy individuals after recent research showed that tenofovir could prevent HIV infection.

In other words, do you take the drug if you’re HIV negative in order to help prevent HIV infection? But either someone who is positive but healthy. Should they start taking the drugs right away, wait a few years, or what? When AIDS is no longer necessarily a death sentence, at least not in the medium-term, the cumulative effects of using these drugs over a lifetime, possibly 50 years or more in some cases, become relevant.

Related… I’m so discouraged, and shocked really, when I see guys online openly advertising that they’re looking for unsafe sex (aka “barebacking”) – and I do see it, more often than makes me comfortable. And they have the nerve to suggest that they’re HIV negative and only looking for negative partners. Sorry to disappoint you, Mary, but unless you get tested after each and every time you have sex, you have no idea if you’re negative, nor if the guy you’re barebacking with is.  Not to mention, you’re willing to risk your life on the assumption that guys never lie about sex?  Nothing is a guarantee, and I’m all for people having a fulfilling sex life.  But barebacking, still, and while negative (not that I’m in favor of it otherwise)?  Seriously?

And a lot of these guys are in their 20s.  Oh what a difference it makes not spending every Friday reading the obituaries in the local gay paper.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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