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HIV drugs can boost protection

14th July 2011

The UK charity Terrence Higgins Trust has welcomed research which has suggested that HIV drugs can be used to boost protection against HIV as well as treating symptoms after infection.

hiv

The findings were revealed ahead of an AIDS conference in Rome and come from two studies in Africa, adding weight to previous data showing drugs used to treat HIV can reduce infection risk when taken daily.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said the findings were genuinely exciting, though they still need to be tested and trialled.

Head of Policy Lisa Power said: “Pre-exposure prophylaxis is not going to be available overnight but we are exploring whether it is one of a range of things that can drive down onward transmission of HIV.”

The World Health Organisation has said the studies could have an enormous impact in preventing HIV transmission.

One of the trials by the University of Washington followed almost 5,000 couples in Kenya and Uganda, where one person had HIV infection and the other did not.

The uninfected person took a daily HIV medicine (tenofovir), a combination of two HIV drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine), or a placebo pill.

There were 62% fewer HIV infections in the group on the single drug and 73% fewer HIV infections in the group that took the combination, compared with those given a dummy pill.

Another study by the United States Centers for Disease Control, which followed 1,200 HIV-negative heterosexual men and women in Botswana, found that the HIV medication reduced the risk of getting HIV by about 63% overall.

 

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