HIV Prevention Injection Taken Every 2 Months Shows Remarkable Results

New tool for HIV prevention shows promising long-term results.
Fabienne Lang

As research for an HIV vaccine continues, there is some good news in that realm.

A global large-scale study has unveiled the fantastic results of cabotegravir (CAB LA), a long-acting injection against HIV in gay men and transgender women. 

The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 083 study observed nearly 4,600 HIV-free participants from across 40 places in North and South America, Africa, and Asia.


A breakthrough moment

"This is a breakthrough that will have a significant impact on the lives of gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender women when they are at higher risk of HIV infection," said Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Program. 

As per UNAIDS' count, in 2018 there were about 1.7 million new HIV infections, so it goes without saying that this new study will impact a significant number of people globally. 

The study showed how CAB LA powerfully protects uninfected people from catching HIV. The injection, given every two months, was not being trialed to be better or worse than the already-existing Truvada daily pill, it's an alternative pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) option as many people have found it difficult to take the pill on a daily basis. 

The study began in December 2016 and enrolled over 4,600 participants globally who were randomly given Truvada, cabotegravir, placebo pills, or placebo injections. As of April this year, 12 people became infected when taking cabotegravir compared with 38 taking Truvada pills. The study clearly demonstrated cabotegravir's strong results as an alternative to Truvada.

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"A long-acting injectable for PrEP that does not require adherence to an oral daily pill is a great addition to the HIV prevention toolbox," said HPTN 083 protocol co-chair Beatriz Grinsztejn. "Prevention strategies have never been one-size-fits-all," she continued.

There is an ongoing additional study (HPTN 084) on the efficacy of a long-acting infection in non-transgender women, the results of which are expected in November. 

Dr. Hader explained her enthusiasm for HPTN 084 "We hope that by the end of this year there will be equally good news for women around the world."