New HIV Drug Reduces the Risk of Infection

Posted on July 15, 2011


Gilead, the drug manufacturer, has developed a pill that, when taken daily, can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection.

The studies were conducted in Botswana, Kenya, and Uganda.

Researchers for the Center of Disease Control conducted one study in Botswana in which 1,200 heterosexual men and women were given either Gilead manufactured Truvada, an antiretroviral, or a placebo pill.  The study found that Truvada reduced the risk of infection by 78%.

A larger study in Kenya and Uganda was conducted on 4,758 “discordant couples” where one person had HIV and the other did not.  The uninfected were given Truvada, Viread (another Gilead manufactured HIV pill), or a placebo pill.  Those on the HIV pills had a 62% and 73% reduced risk of infection, respectively.  Funded by the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, this study was conducted by researchers at the International Clinical Research Centre.

Participants in the larger study were also given condoms, which may have contributed to the reduced risk of infection as well.

Previous studies in South America, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. have been done with gay couples.  Truvada was found to have lowered the risk of infection by up to 73%, but was not proven effective in reducing the risk of infection in gay women in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

A tenofovir gel, when used before sex, is shown to be effective in HIV prevention among women.

On Tuesday, July 12, the United Nations announced that Gilead will allow generic manufacturing of some of its drugs in low and middle income nations, which could potentially make drugs less expensive in poorer countries.  The costs of these pills can be as low as 25 cents a day in some nations.

Botswana, Kenya, and Uganda are being consulted on how best to roll out these drugs in their communities.  The World Health Organization and UNAIDS will use this data to set guidelines before providing coverage.

And while this process may be timely, the UNAIDS chief scientific advisor said that guidance could begin as early as 2012.

Below are more articles about Gilead and its HIV pills.

Voice of America

CBS News

The Guardian (United Kingdom)


If you have any questions, please contact the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.

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Posted in: Health, Public Health