News / Africa

One Pill a Day Helps Prevent HIV Infection

One Pill a Day Helps Prevent HIV Infection
One Pill a Day Helps Prevent HIV Infection
Joe DeCapua

Two new studies done in Africa show that antiretroviral drugs can prevent people from being infected with the AIDS virus, HIV.

The findings in Kenya, Uganda and Botswana show that if HIV-negative people take one pill daily, they can reduce their risk of infection by up to
73 percent. It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The studies were done on couples in which one partner was infected and the other was not.

The findings are “significant on several levels,” said Dr. Cate Hankins, chief scientific advisor to UNAIDS.

“We had an indication that this would work from the iPrEX trial that reported in November about the use of antiretrovirals among men who have sex with men. And that trial found a 44 percent reduction in risk for men who took this combination tablet. That’s tenofovir / emtricitabine once daily,” she said.

That was followed by the FemPrEP study on whether the regimen would work on women. But the study was stopped early when researchers concluded it appeared not to provide women with the same benefits.

“These two trials reporting today firmly show that this does work for women and show for the first time that this works for heterosexual men,” Hankins said.

Another option

“We now have an additional tool in the toolbox for HIV prevention. So we have treatment for prevention, which was announced in May, where a person who has HIV infection starts on treatment early and is less likely to transmit,” she said. “Now we have antiretroviral prevention, where an HIV-negative person can take a drug on a daily basis and not get HIV infection or have a reduced risk of HIV infection.”

There is also the tenofovir gel, a microbicide, shown to be effective in preventing HIV infection for women when used before having sex. The CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial was done in South Africa. Follow-up studies are planned. Other prevention methods include male circumcision, using condoms, having fewer sexual partners, delaying sex and avoiding penetrative sex.

30 Years on

Thirty years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Hankins said, “I think we’re in a whole different era. And I think we really do have a chance to make this a tipping point and to reach the goals that we’re pushing towards.”

At June’s U.N. High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, countries set a goal of reducing sexual transmission by 50 percent by 2015.

“Now 2015’s not that far away,” said Hankins. “But with these new tools to add to what we already have, we have a good chance of being able to reach that 2015 goal.”

Why Africa?

Conducting the studies in three African countries affords researchers some benefits.

“I think it’s very important. These are areas with high incidence. It makes it much more efficient to do a study in a place that has high incidence to get an answer earlier,” she said.

These countries are now expected to help with rollout studies to answer questions about how best to administer the drugs in real life settings. The findings will help UNAIDS and the World Health Organization set guidelines.

Until then, low and middle income countries will probably delay implementing the new prevention method. Insurance companies in developed nations are also expected to wait for the guidance before providing coverage.

“I think we’re going to see a very rapid move now to look at the data in depth. So I doubt very much if it’s going to be available tomorrow anywhere, but it’s hopeful that new guidance could come out by the beginning of 2012,” said the UNAIDS chief scientific advisor.

Cost

The cost of the combination pill can vary from country to country. In some places it may be 25 cents a day as a generic. In other countries, it may cost considerably more.

“The company that makes that pill, Gilead, has stepped forward just this week to become the first company to join the patent pools program, which will bring down prices of drugs. So we’re hopeful that this can become a financially feasible new prevention modality,” said Hankins.

UNAIDS estimated that only half of the 33 million people living with HIV know their HIV status. The agency called for a significant increase in testing so people can take advantage of new prevention and treatment programs and reduce the spread of HIV.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid