It may not be the cure but it's still a big help anyway.
Time to say goodbye to daily pills? Well, researchers at the University of North Carolina think so.
They've created an injection that is as effective or even better than the usual antiretroviral drugs (ART) people with HIV have been using to prevent the virus from being infectious again. They've mixed two antiretroviral drugs called cabotegravir and rilpivirine for such injection.
To test this, 286 volunteers had to undergo a two-year trial on which every eight weeks, they had to have it injected into their buttocks. This enables the drugs collected between muscle fibres travel into the bloodstream.
“A single dose can last for 48 weeks or more,” says Peter Williams of pharmaceutical firm Janssen, who helped lead the project.
Results showed that 94 percent of these people had their virus under control which means that for every millilitre of blood these people have, only 50 copies of the virus are present.
“This is a big step forward,” says Mahesh Mahalingam of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. “It will help remove the challenge of taking tablets every day and significantly improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.”
To compare, while 87% of people having a monthly dose find this new approach effective, only 84% of those who've undergone ART therapy had the pills work for them.
Moreover, only two of the participants chose not to continue with the experiment while some reported soreness on where they were injected. Nonetheless, according to Williams, most of the participants say they would choose the injection over the pills.
“To me, this is a step in the direction we’ve been leaning for some time,” says Anthony Fauci at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland. “It’s most beneficial for people who have difficulty sticking to their pill treatment. This way, you don’t run out of anything.”
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