A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the use of daily anti-retroviral medication reduces the risk of infection in HIV-negative gay men.

The study was done in six countries with 2,500 gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Using the drug Truvada, they found that it can prevent men from acquiring HIV.

Among the enrolled participants, there were 36 infections among individuals who received the drug and 64 new infections among placebo recipients. Researchers estimated that the use of the preventive medication cut new HIV infections by an estimated 44 percent overall when compared to the placebo. This is the first evidence that a drug regimen can reduce the risk of HIV among HIV-negative men.

“Condoms are still the first line of defense, but we’re hopeful that [Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative] may be an important addition to a comprehensive prevention toolbox that will help prevent new infections among gay men,” said National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors executive director Julie Scofield.

Bret Camp from Resource Center Dallas’ Nelson-Tebedo Clinic called it a milestone but cautioned about the side effects and long-term damage of Truvada. He stressed that this therapy will not replace traditional prevention methods.

More on the breakthrough in this Friday’s World AIDS Day Edition of Dallas Voice.