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New research suggests quarterly HIV drug injections could protect against virus

Researchers have found that monthly injections of antiretroviral drugs prevented the spread of HIV between infected and uninfected monkeys and are hopeful a similar approach will work in humans
A syringe
Photo by Biggishben

New research by scientists at Rockerfeller University and the Centers for Disease Control has suggested that a person could be effectively inoculated against the HIV virus if given injections of long lasting antiretroviral medicines only four times a year.

It has been known since 2010 that the spread of HIV can be reduced by over 90% by a healthy person taking antiretroviral drugs orally daily but this is the first time research has shown that monthly or less than monthly injections could contain the virus.

Scientists at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Rockefeller University used a Long-Acting Integrase Inhibitor and injected macaque monkeys with it on a monthly basis before exposing them to a modified version of HIV used for studying the virus in monkeys.

None of the macaques that were injected with the drug contracted HIV.

Their results suggested that humans could be inoculated in a similar way and still be protected from contracting HIV if they were only injected every three months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta study saw six female monkeys given monthly injections of GSK744, an experimental long-lasting form of an antiretroviral drug already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Six other monkeys got a placebo and the monkeys were then exposed to the modified version of HIV for monkeys twice a week.

None of the monkeys that were injected with GSK744 contracted the virus and all of those given the placebo contracted it.

The studies were presented in New York on Tuesday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

A preliminary trial in humans will start towards the end of 2014 but as scientists can’t ethically expose people to the HIV virus will have a larger sample group of 174 people followed by a much larger trial in 2017.

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