Breakthrough in HIV Prevention: Trial Shows That Twice-Yearly Injection 100% Effective in Women

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Breakthrough in HIV Prevention: Trial Shows That Twice-Yearly Injection 100% Effective in Women

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  • Kiara Fabbri

    Written by: Kiara Fabbri Multimedia Journalist

  • Justyn Newman

    Fact-Checked by Justyn Newman Head Content Manager

A major clinical trial in South Africa has yielded promising results for a new HIV prevention medication. The study found that a twice-yearly injection of lenacapavir offered young women 100% protection from HIV infection.

In the Purpose 1 trial study, the researchers compared the effectiveness of three pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug:

1) Lenacapavir, a new injectable medication administered every six months.

2) Truvada (F/TDF), a daily pill that has been the standard PrEP option for over a decade.

3) Descovy (F/TAF), a newer daily pill with improved properties.

The most striking finding was the 100% protection from HIV infection observed among the 2,134 women who received lenacapavir injections. In comparison, some women taking daily Truvada (1.5%) and Descovy (1.8%) contracted the virus.

These results highlight the potential benefits of injectable PrEP, particularly for young women in sub-Saharan Africa who often struggle with adherence to daily medications.

Physician-scientist Linda-Gail Bekker, principal investigator for the South African part of the study, writes: ”For a young woman who struggles to get to an appointment at a clinic in a town or who can’t keep pills without facing stigma or violence, an injection just twice a year is the option that could keep her free of HIV.’’

The Purpose 1 trial will continue in an “open label” phase, allowing participants to choose their preferred PrEP option. Additionally, a sister trial (Purpose 2) is underway to assess lenacapavir’s effectiveness among men and transgender individuals.

Over 1.3 million people contracted HIV globally in 2022. This number, though lower than 2010’s 2 million, is still far too high to reach the UNAIDS target of less than 500,000 new infections by 2025.

”We also hope we may begin to see the drug being tested in more studies to understand better how to incorporate it into real world settings. Price is a critical factor to ensure access and distribution in the public sector where it is badly needed.’’ Said Linda-Gail Bekker .

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