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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid