Implant offers novel approach to HIV prevention, United States News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

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PublishedJul 25, 2019, 5:00 am SGT PARIS • A matchstick-sized implant could revolutionise HIV prevention regimes, new research has shown. Early trials suggest that the device could stop at-risk people getting the virus for up to a year at a time. The developers, unveiling the findings of a clinical trial at the 10th annual International Aids Society conference in Mexico City on Tuesday, said the device could eventually offer a novel approach to HIV suppression. It uses a molecule called MK-8591 – about 10 times stronger as an HIV inhibitor than medicines on the market, and which has a very high barrier against resistance. “It slowly releases the drug and maintains a very consistent level of the drug in your body. Taking this prophylactically, it can prevent you from getting infected,” said Dr Mike Robertson, director of global clinical development for virology at MSD research. Currently, individuals at high risk of contracting HIV have to take a pill every day to guarantee their protection. In its annual report on the disease, the United Nations this month said global Aids deaths had fallen by one-third since 2010 to about 770,000 last year. However, it warned that while the decline in new infection rates was slowing worldwide, in some regions, including Eastern Europe and the Middle East, rates were increasing dramatically. Dr Robertson said the implant, or even a monthly pill containing the same active ingredient, could provide more options for at-risk communities. “Men who have sex with men still remain, in the US and Europe, the group that has the highest rate of new infections,” said Dr Robertson. “But globally, the highest incidence rate is in young women in sub-Saharan Africa, and this is another group where most new infections are occurring.” Dr Anton Pozniak, International Aids Society president, said the implant “offers another choice for those who might in the future also have pills and injectables available”. On Tuesday, fresh analysis was also unveiled on a recent clinical trial into the safety and tolerability of an HIV vaccine. The Phase 2 trial took place in Kenya, Rwanda and the United States among healthy, low-risk, HIV-negative adults. The initial results showed that the vaccines were well-tolerated. A Phase 3 trial is now in planning. “These are very promising times in HIV vaccine research, with multiple efficacy clinical trials ongoing, new approaches in development, and a growing sense that we may be getting closer to an effective vaccine,” said Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise director Roger Tatoud. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE