An early test of a new drug and method of blocking HIV infection suggests they could overcome one of the biggest obstacles to combating the virus by keeping people on their medication, according to research released [July 23].
The approach uses a small implant the size of a matchstick, inserted in the upper arm, to slowly release a new medication that appears to block the virus for a year or more. If it is proved safe and successful in larger studies, the method could be a major improvement for people at high risk of contracting HIV who have trouble adhering to the once-a-day pill regimen and other available methods.
The new implant prototype provided a continuous drug dose high enough to shield against the virus for three months, [Merck Research Laboratories vice president George] Hanna said. It is 10 times more potent than any other antiretroviral medication, and modeling shows that it should last a year. The implant can be taken out if a problem develops. Once the medication runs out, the implant can be removed and replaced in a visit to a doctor’s office, he said.
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