Antiretroviral drugs reduce risk of HIV infection

Washington: An international study has found that taking antiretroviral medications can significantly reduce risk of HIV infections.

The study has demonstrated that individuals at high risk for HIV infection who took a daily tablet containing an HIV medication, either the antiretroviral medication tenofovir or tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine, experienced significantly fewer HIV infections than those who received a placebo pill.

These findings are clear evidence that this new HIV prevention strategy, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), substantially reduces HIV infection risk.

The study known as the Partners PrEP Study is led by the University of Washington’s International Clinical Research Center and involves 4,758 HIV serodiscordant couples, in which one partner has HIV and the other does not, from nine research sites in Kenya and Uganda.

“This study is the largest study to date looking at the effectiveness of PrEP,” Dr. Connie Celum, a UW professor of global health and medicine and the principal investigator of the study, said.

“This study demonstrates that antiretrovirals are a highly potent and fundamental cornerstone for HIV prevention and should become an integral part of global efforts for HIV prevention,” Celum stated.

In the study, those who received tenofovir (TDF) had an average of 62 percent fewer HIV infections and those who received tenofovir combined with emtricitabine (FTC/TDF) had 73 percent fewer HIV infections than those who received placebo.

“This is an extremely exciting finding for the field of HIV prevention. Now, more than ever, the priority for HIV prevention research must be on how to deliver successful prevention strategies, like PrEP, to populations in greatest need,” Dr. Jared Baeten, co-chair of the study and a UW associate professor of global health and medicine, added.


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