A new injectable HIV drug is being developed and will soon roll out and it is said to be a long – acting injectable antiretroviral drug administered once every two months.
It is suggested that, the new injectable HIV drug soon to be rolled out is ‘safe and superior” than daily pills taken by women to protect them from contacting, HIV.
Researchers from the HIV Prevention Trials Network on Monday announced that, a new study that has been conducted in seven African countries including Zimbabwe shows that the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen of long acting cabotegravir injections is 89 percent more effective than daily oral Truvada pills for preventing HIV infection.
”The results are incredibly important for women in Africa where lowering HIV incidence remains a priority,” said Dr sinead Delany-Moretiwe, a research proffessor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who headed the study.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that, daily pills have continued to be challenging and an effective injectable product is more important as it reduces challenges of not taking pills.
”We know that adherence to a daily pill continues to be challenging, and an effective injectable product such as long-acting cabotegravir is very important additional HIV prevention option for them .”Said Dr Delany-Maretiwe.
Furthermore, an Independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board has recommended the study sponsor, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, should stop the trials early ”in the interest of the public health” after finding out that a shot of the experimental medicine every two months worked better than daily pills to prevent women from contracting HIV from an infected sexual partner.
Meanwhile, the study was originally designed to continue through 2022 and the study is known as HPTN 084, which was jointly funded through by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Viiv Health care. The study drugs are provided by ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences, Inc.
The new injectable HIV drug is a boon for the HIV/AIDS prevention efforts especially in Africa, where the study took place and where women have few discreet ways of protecting themselves from infection which most people are afraid to contact the virus.
More so, Researchers have enrolled 3,223 women at research sites in Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe .The average age of study participants was 26 years and 57 percent of participants were 18-25 years old and 82 percent of the women enrolled were not living with a partner.
55 percent reported two or more partners in the past month, with 34 percent having a primary partner who is reported to be living with HIV or having an unknown HIV status.
”After years of evaluating HIV prevention strategies for women, I am thrilled that, we have found cabotegravir so effectively reduces HIV acquisition and provides women with more choices in how to protect themselves.” Said Dr Mina Hosseinipour , the HPTN 084 protocol co-chair and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC) who is currently the scientific director of UNC Project-Malawi in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The researchers said that, the higher – than- expected level of adherence to the daily pill throughout the study and overall low incidence rate in both arms of the study clearly demonstrates that both drugs were highly effective at preventing HIV acquisition.