Women and HIV: 6 shots a year shown to be more effective than daily pill

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Women have had only one approved option for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a course of drugs taken to prevent contracting H.I.V.: the daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences… Many women struggled to take the pill regularly, undercutting its usefulness.

The trial compared [an] injected drug, called cabotegravir, with Truvada in 3,223 participants in 20 sites across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the women who received Truvada, 34 became infected with H.I.V. during the trial, compared with just four of the women receiving the injections; two of those four women had stopped taking the injections, Dr. [Kimberly] Smith said.

After an interim analysis showed that the long-acting injection was 89 percent more effective than Truvada, an independent data safety monitoring board recommended that the trial be stopped early.

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“I am extremely excited about the findings of this study, and I have to admit that I was on razor’s edge waiting for these results,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an H.I.V. expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the trial.

The drug does not need to be refrigerated, so mobile clinics and community centers can offer it to women or bundle it with injectable birth control, Dr. Gandhi said.

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