Over the last 25 years, scientists have sampled a smorgasbord of strategies to halt the spread of AIDS: anti-retroviral drugs, vaccines, HIV testing, and so-called â€œsafe sexâ€ advice. Yet this modern-day Black Plague still spreads unchecked and now claims 3 million lives each year. â€œUnqualified failureâ€ is the phrase that leaps to mind.
But a few years ago someone came up with a bright new idea â€“ why not have personsÂ take a protective drug just before becoming exposed to the deadly Human Immunodeficiency Virus? Hence the idea of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis â€“ PREP â€“ was born. Enterprising scientists cranked out research proposals and drug companies revved up production lines.
One promising drug was tenofovir, a medicine far cheaper than the other medicines. Groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lined up to invest millions to test this new wonder potion.