TIME medicine

Experimental HIV Injection Drug Shows Promise

Monkeys who received an experimental injection-based HIV treatment didn't contract the disease when later exposed to it, raising hopes the current once-a-day pill system of treatment could soon be replaced for those battling the illness

New research shows that an experimental drug given once every few months could replace daily pills to prevent HIV infection.

In two different trials on a total of 28 monkeys, the Associated Press reports, researchers gave one group shots of an experimental HIV-preventative drug, while the others received placebo shots. They then exposed the monkeys to HIV at a few different times during the trials. The monkeys who were given the drug remained healthy, while the monkeys without the drug were infected. The drug had a protective window of about 10 weeks.

The results are very promising because they provide a potential alternative to Truvada, a daily pill that treats people with HIV. Truvada is also being used to help prevent infection in people who do not have the virus. Studies have shown it can significantly cut risk depending on how consistently people take the daily pills. If people at risk for contracting HIV could take a shot every one to three months instead, the injection method could help prevent even more infections.

The research was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. Given the small sample size, and that the drug has not been tested in humans, the results are still preliminary.


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