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Health concerns as pill to treat Aids is used for unprotected sex

A number of people in Portugal have been known to take Truvada – an antiviral pill meant to treat people with HIV/Aids – before having unprotected sex under the assumption that it will keep them from becoming infected.

The story was splashed over the front page of yesterday’s Portuguese daily newspaper Jornal de Notícias and is causing concern among health officials, as the pill is being dubbed the “Aids morning-after pill”.

Citing a doctor at a Porto hospital, JN says that more people are requesting the pill at emergency rooms after they’ve had unprotected sex and others are apparently somehow able to obtain the drug before their sexual encounters.

And as doctors point out, there is no evidence that Truvada prevents people from becoming infected with Aids, no matter when it is taken. It also does not prevent pregnancy or the transmission of other diseases.

Portugal’s medicine authority Infarmed confirms the number of people requesting the pill has increased in recent months, and that the government has spent €78 million on the drug between January and April this year – an 11% increase compared to last year.

Kamal Mansinho, who is in charge of the fight against VIH/Aids at Portugal’s health board (DGS), said he has also heard similar stories of the drug being misused and its illegal purchase online. Truvada is a prescription drug and only given to people whose HIV infection is active.

What steps will be taken to prevent Truvada from being misused have not been explained.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com