Studies show promise in AIDS prevention
Two studies released yesterday add to the growing body of evidence that taking a daily pill containing one or two AIDS drugs can keep an uninfected person from catching HIV.
The studies were the first to show protection in heterosexuals; the only earlier one with similarly encouraging results involved gay men.
As it becomes clearer that antiretroviral drugs can not only treat the disease but prevent it, pressure is likely to increase on donors to find more money to supply the drugs in African nations ravaged by HIV and on pharmaceutical manufacturers to either sell them cheaply worldwide or release their patents to companies that can.
“This is an extremely exciting day for HIV prevention,’’ said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One study released yesterday, known as Partners PrEP and conducted in Kenya and Uganda by researchers from the University of Washington, showed that participants who took a daily Truvada pill - a mix of tenofovir and emtricitabine - had a 73 percent lower chance of getting infected. The study was done in 4,758 “discordant couples,’’ those in which one partner was infected and the other was not. Partners who took a Viread pill - which contains only tenofovir - had a 62 percent lower chance.
The second study, called TDF2 and done in Botswana by the CDC, found that those taking Truvada had a 63 percent lower chance of infection. The subjects were 1,200 young adults.