Truvada has been on the market to treat HIV positive patients since 2004. But now, the Food and Drug Administration has given the drug the green light for people who are not HIV positive to use.
"I think it's great news because we have for the first time treatment to give people to prevent HIV", said Dr. Steven Pounder.
The FDA says the drug is effective in preventing HIV transmission. Clinical studies have shown the drug reduced transmission of the virus that causes AIDS in 90% of the patients who used the drug as prescribed. Dr. Steven Pounder treats HIV patients who use the drug.
"You have to take it every day for the time period of exposure so yes, it's pretty much every single day", Pounder said.
Since the drug is FDA approved, patients can get a month's supply for about $50 with insurance. The cost is about $1,000 a month without insurance.
But there is concern that people who are not HIV positive and use the drug may get a false sense of security believing they cannot contract the virus and resort to having unprotected sex.
Ruben Ramirez is the HIV prevention programs manager for Resource Center Dallas. He points out that people who were less likely to get HIV in the studies all wore condoms.
"I don't know that it is going to be the key preventing HIV", Ramirez said.
"If you're going to have sex and you're going to have multiple partners, you've got to use a condom each and every time", he said.
Dr. Pounder also stresses that the HIV virus can become resistant to the drug which is another reason why condoms should always be used.
"This one drug is not perfect by any means, but it lowers the risk. It lowers the odds", Pounder said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times