World Bulletin/News Desk
The World Health Organization has endorsed using HIV medicines among people who do not have the infection but are at high risk of getting it, and suggested that poor and wealthy countries alike set up pilot projects to better understand the benefits.
The United Nations agency made its suggestion on Friday, four days after U.S. regulators approved use of Gilead Sciences Inc's Truvada for people who are not infected but may engage in sexual activity with HIV-positive partners. The concept is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Truvada, which combines the anti-HIV drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine in one pill, is widely used to treat people already infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The medicine, which costs almost $14,000 a year in the United States, is the first treatment also approved for prevention.
"WHO is encouraging countries wishing to introduce PrEP to first establish small projects to help public health workers to better understand and realize its potential benefits," the agency said in a statement. It said appropriate HIV medicines should be given to those at high risk of infection.
"These could include men or transgender women who have sex with men," the group said.
WHO spokeswoman Sarah Russell said the agency could not recommend specific drugs for prevention, but she said, "It needs to be a drug like Truvada that has been developed for prevention purposes."
Russell said WHO expects Gilead to make Truvada available at a deeply discounted price in some poor countries.
"We believe Gilead will bring the price down to about $100 per year per person" in those countries, she said in an interview.
Gilead officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
WHO noted that an international study called Partners PrEP has shown that HIV medicines are highly effective at preventing the illness in men and women whose partners are infected.
That study, conducted in Kenya and Uganda and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, involved taking a daily tablet containing tenofovir or tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine.
The U.N. agency said it would evaluate the outcomes of the small projects, along with evolving scientific evidence, before issuing its own detailed guidelines next year on the use of HIV treatments for prevention.
WHO said it was important that people taking HIV drugs for prevention are HIV-negative because otherwise drug resistant forms of HIV could evolve. The agency said they should also continue using condoms and faithfully take their medicines on a daily basis.
Public concern has been heightened by the spread of rumours on social media that there were many undiagnosed cases, as well as accusations of government cover-ups and inadequate hygiene procedures
The long-awaited proposal would subject the $2 billion e-cigarette industry to federal regulation for the first time.
Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location
About 15 percent of world's children going without vaccinations, says WHO's Director of Immunization Dr. Okwo-Bele
The weeklong campaign will target seven of South Sudan's ten states.
The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 272, of whom 81 have died.
In a survey conducted last year, most water analyzed was deemed to be "very poor" or "relatively poor" in standard and cannot be used for drinking purposes.
Poaching rhinos for their horns is a growing problem in South Africa and a lucrative business for organised criminal networks but it is unusual for thieves to target stock piles.
The 17 new cases, announced late on Monday on the Health Ministry website, bring the total number of Saudi infections to 261, of whom 81 have died
The amendments, now in their fourth draft, are expected to enshrine environmental protection as the overriding priority of the Chinese government
In 2008, the Zambian government banned smoking in public places, relying on state police to enforce the prohibition.
Saudi Arabia has reported 244 cases of MERS since the disease was identified in 2012, of which 79 have been fatal.
China is aiming to make energy production and consumption more ecological to fight smog, siad the Chinese Premier.
MERS has no vaccine or anti-viral treatment, but international and Saudi health authorities say the disease, which originated in camels, does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out
Blamed on the uncontrolled and overuse of farm chemicals, the level of contamination has raised a number of health concerns, with certain villages already showing higher rates of cancer than the national average.
The deputy minister called on South Sudanese farmers in states that have not been hit by famine to cultivate their farmlands to avoid exacerbating the crisis in the country.