The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first drug to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to people not yet infected.

The drug, Truvada, is approved to reduce the risk of HIV infection in those who are not infected, who are at high risk and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners. Taken daily, the medication is to be used as part of a comprehensive prevention plan that includes safer sex practices.

“Today’s approval marks an important milestone in our fight against HIV,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a statement. “Every year, about 50,000 U.S. adults and adolescents are diagnosed with HIV infection, despite the availability of prevention methods and strategies to educate, test and care for people living with the disease. New treatments as well as prevention methods are needed to fight the HIV epidemic in this country.”

APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin concurred. “Expanding the range of evidence-based comprehensive strategies is critical to preventing the spread of HIV,” he said.

FDA’s announcement comes during National HIV Awareness Month. The drug’s approval is likely to be highlighted next week at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.