News

    New Studies on HIV Treatment as Prevention

    Cassandra James, right, Emily Bass, and Mitchell Warren chant slogans during a demonstration in New York. AIDS activists from around the world rally outside the United Nations headquarters calling for full funding for global AIDS treatment and prevention,
    Cassandra James, right, Emily Bass, and Mitchell Warren chant slogans during a demonstration in New York. AIDS activists from around the world rally outside the United Nations headquarters calling for full funding for global AIDS treatment and prevention,
    Joe DeCapua

    Recent studies have shown that antiretroviral drugs can be used not only to treat HIV, but also to prevent infection in the first place. It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP for short. Now, the western U.S. state of California is launching new studies to determine PrEP’s effectiveness beyond clinical trials and out in the real world.

    Treatment as prevention has been shown to be highly successful in clinical trials. But will it work for people in high risk groups as they go about their daily lives? Will they adhere to the drug regimen even if it’s taking only one pill a day?

    These are some of the questions the California HIV/AIDS Research Program hopes to answer with three new studies. Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS advocacy group AVAC, said these are “demonstration studies.”

    “These are not randomized controlled trials where we’re telling people you may get placebo, you may get the active drug. And even if you get the active drug we don’t know if it works. These are studies that are going to work with people in communities in California. People who are at risk. [They] are going to be explained that we think this product works based on these clinical trials, but only if you use [it]. And provide it to a small number of people to really better understand the safety and effectiveness in areas outside of clinical trials,” he said.

    MSM & transgenders

    The studies focus on groups where HIV infections are rising rapidly.

    Warren said, “All of these activities in California are focused on men who have sex with men and transgender women. And that is entirely understandable and appropriate given the epidemic in the United States. That is the leading area of need. At the same time we really hope as advocates that these demonstration projects in California are the first of many and that many more will look at other populations.”

    Those taking part in the study are being asked to follow what would appear to be a very simple drug regimen.

    “It is a daily dose and it is a combined drug. It’s a single pill, but with both active tenofovir and emtricitabine. And it is the same dose that is provided to people who are infected with HIV, who use the same pill for treatment. So the recommendation that was studied in the trial was the same single pill every day,” he said

    Daily dose

    However, Warren said pre-exposure prophylaxis is only effective if people take the pill. So the studies will also examine why people may skip doses, even if they only have to swallow one pill a day.

    “People who took this pill consistently had high levels, an excess of 70 percent reduction of risk. People who didn’t take the pill consistently didn’t get any benefit at all. There was no added protection,” he said.

    When antitrovirals first came on the scene in the early and mid-1990s, people had to take dozens of pills a day. They had to take them at very specific times, sometimes with food, sometimes without. They often had very bad side effects, including nausea. There were even conditions called “buffalo hump” and “Crix belly,” where body fat would build up behind the neck or on the abdomen. So, while lives were being saved, treatment could make people feel pretty sick.

    Warren said it’s much different today.

    “We also have to remember the incredible scientific advances – from the 80s when getting HIV inevitably meant a very short life and a very painful disease in death – to a period of early antiretroviral therapy where we had drugs that were very difficult to take and very toxic, but they could save your life if you could withstand that – to a point now where people can take one or two pills a day. Much safer, much less toxic. We’re in a very different place,” he said.

    In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will review the PrEP research. It could lead to greater access to prevention as treatment and provide accurate information to healthcare providers, insurance companies and potential users.

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora