The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDs, Monday.
The drug, Truvada, is made by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and had already been approved for use with other drugs to treat HIV. However, this is the first time the drug has been approved to be used on its own as a preventative measure.
The FDA says that the drug is intended to be taken daily by individuals who are not infected with HIV, but run a high risk of contracting the virus. Truvada is approved for use as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that includes safe sex practices, risk reduction counseling and regular HIV testing.
Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA commissioner, said that the drug’s approval “marks an important milestone” in the fight against HIV — a fight that has spanned three decades.
“Every year, about 50,000 U.S. adults and adolescents are diagnosed with HIV infection, despite the availability of prevention methods and strategies to educate, test, and care for people living with the disease,” Hamburg said in a press release. “New treatments as well as prevention methods are needed to fight the HIV epidemic in this country.”