Currently in the US, there are two drugs approved for prevention of HIV or PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).
Truvada (a combination of tenofovir and FTC) is approved for women and men and Descovy (a combination of tenofovir alafenamide and FTC) is approved for men.
In most parts of the world, only Truvada is available which is a pill taken daily. It works very well in preventing HIV when it is taken as prescribed!
When people don’t take the drug properly, there may not be enough drug present in the blood to prevent an HIV infection.
Since many people don’t like taking medicines, especially when they don’t have a disease, it would be great if there was an option that didn’t require daily dosing.
In a post on June 1, 2020 in the HIV/AIDS section on this site, I reported the very encouraging results of a treatment, long-acting cabotegravir injectable in preventing HIV in men (Long-acting medication for HIV Treatment and Prevention).
I mentioned at the time that there was a companion study that was ongoing at that time being conducted in women.
In the recent study, a double-placebo study design was used where women subjects received either the real Truvada pill and a “fake” injection or a real injection of cabotegravir and “fake” Truvada pills.
The study subjects did not know which treatment they were actually getting. 3,223 sexually-active women who were confirmed HIV-negative were recruited across several eastern and southern African countries.
The pills were taken daily whereas the injection was given once every two months. In the study, there were 38 women who got infected. First, the good news.
For the group taking the daily Truvada, there were 34 infections, or an incidence rate of 1.79%. If we compare this result to studies where there are some subjects that get no treatment, the infection rate averages 4.5 – 5.0% in that group.
This means that Truvada could potentially