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CDC To Doctors: Anti-HIV Pill No Magic Bullet Against Virus

Rating

5 Star

Categories

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CDC To Doctors: Anti-HIV Pill No Magic Bullet Against Virus

Our Review Summary

Clear, succinct, and important reporting that tones down some of the celebratory tone that greeted a drug’s “landmark study” from a few months ago.

 

Why This Matters

The story notes that there was a lot of celebrating when news came out in November that taking a pill can reduce the risk of getting HIV.  But the story delivered a clear dose of evidence and caution – important journalism.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

Strong point.  The story said, “There’s one other thing, the CDC says. Make sure patients understand that warding off HIV isn’t cheap. Each pill currently costs around $36, which adds up to more than $13,000 a year. Some insurers might pay, but some might balk”

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story stated the benefits clearly – albeit only in relative risk reduction terms.  We would have preferred absolute numbers.  But it did such a good job in telling the updated story about proper use of the drug in question that we give it a satisfactory score.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

Several clear points were made about harms:

  • “Test patients before prescribing it to make sure they’re not already infected. That’ll help avoid creating viruses resistant to the drug when patients miss doses.”
  • “Truvada has side effects. Among the most common are diarrhea, nausea and fatigue. Less common but very serious reactions are also possible, including a dangerous build up of acid in the blood and liver damage.”

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story did a great job of communicating the read-between-the-lines reality of the evidence for the use of this drug.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

NO disease-mongering here.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story is based on the CDC’s evaluation and warnings about proper use of the drug.

We would have liked to have seen a clinician-researcher’s perspective – someone not affiliated with the CDC analysis.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

Not applicable.  Because of the nature of this drug, no comparison is really necessary.  As the story stated, “It’s the first time anybody’s shown that taking a pill can prevent HIV – and it was the first new weapon against HIV unveiled in many years.”

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story is clear that Truvada is already on the market.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story stated, “It’s the first time anybody’s shown that taking a pill can prevent HIV – and it was the first new weapon against HIV unveiled in many years.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

We  have no evidence that the story relied on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory

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