Injection better at HIV protection than daily pills: US researchers

File: The patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and had been on medication to keep the disease in check since 2012.

File: The testing began more than three years ago in seven countries -- including the United States, Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa -- and looked at men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, most of them under age 30.

Prakash Mathema /AFP

WASHINGTON - Injecting people with a new, experimental drug every eight weeks provides better protection against HIV than daily pills that have revolutionised the fight against AIDS, US government researchers reported.  

The National Institutes of Health released the preliminary results of a major clinical trial involving a drug called cabotegravir.

The testing began more than three years ago in seven countries -- including the United States, Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa -- and looked at men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, most of them under age 30.

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Those are the two groups at the highest risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

Another clinical trial focusing on women is underway.

For now, the only medication approved for HIV prevention is a drug cocktail called PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. In the US, it has been marketed under the brand names Truvada and Descovy.

HIV-free people who te PrEP daily see their risk of infection from unprotected sex reduced by 99 percent, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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But the fact that these pills must be taken every day is seen as an obstacle, so researchers are looking for less unwieldy alternatives.

The results released stem from a trial involving more than 4,500 people. Half were injected with cabotegravir and took PrEP placebos, while the other half received a placebo injection and real PrEP pills.

So everybody taking part in the trial was treated with either cabotegravir or PrEP.

Source
AFP