Posted on June 20, 2013
CHICAGO, June 12 (Reuters) - A daily dose of powerful anti-HIV medicine helped cut the risk of infection with the AIDS virus by 49 percent in intravenous drug users in a Bangkok study that showed for the first time such a preventive step can work in this high-risk population.
"This is a significant step forward for HIV prevention," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which helped conduct the clinical trial along with the Thailand Ministry of Health.
The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Lancet, looked at the treatment approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in which HIV treatments are given to uninfected people who are at high-risk for HIV infection.
The drug used in the study was Gilead's older and relatively cheap generic HIV drug tenofovir. The study was launched in 2005.
Prior studies of this approach showed it cut infection rates by 44 percent in men who have sex with men, by 62 percent in heterosexual men and women and by 75 percent in couples in which one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. The new results showed that it also protects intravenous drug users.
"We now know that PrEP can work for all populations at increased risk for HIV," Mermin said in a statement.