Experimental Treatment Prevents HIV in Women

Experimental Treatment is 89% effective in preventing HIV in women
Source: AP Photo/Bram Janssen
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 38 million people across the world suffer from HIV.
  • The HPTN 084 clinical trial was launched in 2017 to test the effectiveness of a new HIV experimental drug.
  • Results of the study showed the new injectable treatment was 89% more effective at preventing HIV in women than the alternative oral pills.

In late 2017, researchers at the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) began a clinical trial to test the efficacy of an experimental HIV treatment. The effectiveness of long-acting Cabotegravir injections and Truvada pills was compared in the trial. The study was originally due to finish in 2022 however, after the publication of its recent results, the trial has now stopped.

After years of evaluating HIV prevention strategies for women, I am thrilled that we have found CAB LA so effectively reduces HIV acquisition and provides women more choices in how to protect themselves.

Dr. Mina Hosseinipour, HPTN 084 protocol co-chair

Experimental HIV Treatment Shows Promising Results in At-Risk Women

Current HIV prevention treatments, Truvada pills, are available in oral form and require a strict daily regimen for best results. Whereas the experimental HIV treatment, Cabotegravir, requires a single shot every two months. Thus, making it a more convenient option for at-risk women in need of more discreet options. 

We know that adherence to a daily pill continues to be challenging, and an effective injectable product such as long-acting CAB is a very important additional HIV prevention option for them. We are grateful to the women who volunteered for this study and the research staff, as this study would not have been possible without their commitment to HIV prevention.

Dr. Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, HPTN 084 protocol chair

Cabotegravir is a long-acting anti-retroviral injectable drug, developed by ViiV Healthcare. Earlier trials found it effective in preventing HIV in cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men.

For the HPTN 084 clinical trial, researchers recruited over 3,000 sexually active cis-gender women aged between 18 to 45 years. All belonged to sub-Saharan Africa, a region where the incidence of HIV is much higher in women. The study participants either received daily Truvada pills or injectable shots every 8 weeks.

Long-Acting Injection 89% More Effective Than Oral Pills

The results showed only four women in the injectable group ended up contracting HIV. Compared to 34 cases in the oral treatment group. Thus, making the injectable treatment 89% more effective than its oral counterpart. Furthermore, the oral pills also caused side effects in the participants. 

Although the results are quite promising, it is not clear whether the treatment is safe for pregnant women and adolescents. Therefore, the authors of the study suggest conducting further trials.

However, it cannot be denied that the results are definitely a great milestone in the fight against HIV.

Reference:

HPTN 084 Study Demonstrates Superiority of CAB LA to Oral FTC/TDF for the Prevention of HIV. (2020, November 09). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.hptn.org/news-and-events/press-releases/hptn-084-study-demonstrates-superiority-of-cab-la-to-oral-ftctdf-for

R. Landovitz et al. HPTN 083 interim results: pre-exposure prophylaxis containing long-acting injectable cabotegravir is safe and highly effective for cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men. Oral presentation at the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual), July 8, 5 p.m. ET

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