In the Coachella Valley, there are nealry 900 people living with HIV and over 1800 with AIDS; and though an existing HIV drug was recently FDA approved for prevention, health officials still advise safe sex.
The drug is called Truvada -- intended for use by those who are not HIV positive but who engage in high-risk behavior.
The dosage calls for one pill per day.
The drug in the past has been used in a drug cocktail to treat already infected patients over 12 years old, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials.
However, Riverside County public health officials caution that the best way to stay infection free is to practice safe sex.
“It is our hope in the department that ... approved medications like Truvada can reduce the risk and spread of HIV infection,” said Cameron Kaiser, interim Riverside County health officer.
“However, we still continue to endorse safer sex practices as the key means of containing spread of STDs in general, and even though these studies are encouraging, they are only one front for battling HIV," Kaiser said.
According to the FDA, Truvada works to prevent HIV from establishing itself and multiplying in the body.
Health officials worry that notice of the drug's approval in prevention could lead some to become careless and take risks in their sexual encounters, according to Kaiser.
FDA officials stress the the drug is intended for use in conjunction with safe sex practices, treatment of other existing STIs and regular testing for HIV.
In two large clinical trials, daily use of Truvada was shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection, according to the FDA.
To read more about the trial, please click on the PDF document attached to this article.
According to the county public health department, there are about 1,500 residents living with HIV in Riverside County; nationally, about 1.2 million are infected.
Between 2009 and 2011, there were 361 new HIV cases reported in this county, officials see below:
- For figures broken down per area, please see below:
San Gorgonio Pass
Desert Hot Springs
Cathedral City/Palm Desert