Reaction

An unidentified subject, who is HIV positive, reacts to the news of the drug Truvada for treatment of HIV. (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam / July 17, 2012)

"It's what's great about treatment today, but also what causes people to abandon condoms," he said. "They're no longer in fear of a deadly disease. … We don't want anyone to think we're saying [Truvada] allows you to abandon condoms either."

Those who do take Truvada should be educated to cut down on risky behaviors and encourage adherence to the pill regimen, said Eduardo Leon Guerrero, medical director at Chase Brexton Health Services' Baltimore office, which offers treatment. It is hard to get people to follow any treatment plan, he said.

"When you are trying to look at who is on all cylinders, that is a small percentage," he said.

Guerrero thought the medication would work well in some groups, such as a married couple in which both are committed but one is HIV-positive. Still, he said the drug would still need to be used in conjunction with other precautions.

"The message has to be that we are all generally very interested in reducing the number of new HIV patients that get diagnosed every year," Guerrero said. "If Truvada becomes a tool that may be a part of that, that's great. But it comes at a cost. And comes with some risk."

The infected Towson man also was pleased the drug is now an option because it can save lives. But he said risky behavior is a tough thing to change.

"That's a big difference psychologically," he said. "In order to manage my virus, I know that I have to take a daily regimen of pills. They go down like vitamins now. The person that is not infected is not equipped … to think that way and may be more lax."

Andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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