AIDS Drugs Can Also Prevent HIV, Research Shows

The results of two new studies conducted in Africa show that antiretroviral AIDS drugs can cut a person’s chance of HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse by 50% when taken daily, a Washington Post article reports.

One study, called “Parterns PrEP,” was conducted in Kenya and Uganda by the University of Washington. The research was granted $63 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but not all of that budget was needed because the results were so successful that the study concluded early.

The other, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and fully funded by the federal government, met with similar success in Botswana.

By showing that antiretroviral drugs can help prevent HIV infection in the broad population in Africa, the studies expand on previous research, which demonstrated that these drugs worked to prevent infection in specific groups — women, male homosexuals and those whose regular partners are HIV positive.

The findings could have huge implications for HIV prevention: The antiretroviral drugs already used to treat HIV could very well be the key to preventing the infection from forming in the first place.

This could necessitate quick action: About 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide; of those, 6.6 million are taking antiretroviral drugs. Now that these drugs have been found to prevent infection as well, they could soon be needed in larger quantities to avoid new infections.

The University of Washington School of Medicine is a Research!America member.

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