Science

HIV Prevention: Shots To Prevent HIV Enter Global Clinical Trials

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 02, 2017 01:29 PM EST
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The little blue pill, Truvada, might be replaced by a simpler, more efficient method very soon. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is taking big steps for HIV prevention with the global clinical trial of an injectable HIV-prevention drug -- cabotegravir. The trials will take place in eight countries from America, Asia and Africa.

Truvada is a breakthrough drug in HIV prevention which has successfully reduced the cases of HIV in US by about 20 percent. However, HIV rates are still rising for blacks, transgender women and the youth. Research suggest that some people have difficulty in taking Truvada regularly (the pill is required to be taken daily) while some people are burdened with the high cost of the pill.

According to NIH, the study will examine if the efficiency of cabotegravir injected every 8 weeks to those who are at risk of HIV. The clinical trial will enlist 4,500 men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men for about four and a half years.

Participants of the clinical trial should be at least 18 years old and above and are at high risk for HIV infection. They would be randomly assigned to the cabotegravir injection group or the Truvada control group. The full results are expected to come out in 2021.

"The ultimate reason for the trial is that many people who take Truvada have difficulty with having to take a pill every single day," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, told NBC News. "That really becomes prohibitive, and sometimes people don't adhere really well."

The participants of the trial will also receive counseling for HIV prevention. On the other hand, to assure the safely of the participants, investigators will be placed on the site of the trials for monitoring and to respond to unexpected safety concerns. The researchers are also studying on making the shots last longer than 8 weeks.

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