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HIV injection taken every two months scraps need for daily drugs

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor   |   01 August 2017   |   3:42 am  

Currently HIV patients have to take antiretroviral medication each day to stop it from weakening their immune system and leading to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

*Bacteria under foreskin of penis raise men’s risk by up to 63% by acting as virus’ ‘gateway’ into body

The Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) can be controlled by an injection needed just six times a year – scrapping the need for daily drugs, scientists claim.

Experts have hailed the early trial findings as ‘life-changing’ and have suggested a jab could be the ‘next revolution’ in treating the virus.

Currently HIV patients have to take antiretroviral medication each day to stop it from weakening their immune system and leading to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

But the Phase II trial proved a combination of two such drugs in an injection form offers just as much protection – if not more. The jabs, taken every two months, which slowly releases medication into the blood, were found to be just as effective as the daily pills.

Scientists tested an injectable anti-retroviral therapy (ART) consisting of the two drugs cabotegravir and rilpivirine. A total of 286 HIV-positive patients took part, having already suppressed the virus with oral medication.

They were split into groups and randomly given further maintenance treatment in the form of more pills, or injections. This happened either once a month or once every two months, researchers said in prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

What did they find? The international study found the two-monthly injections continued to control the infection in 94 per cent of patients over 96 weeks. This treatment was more effective than either on-going oral medication (84 per cent) or the monthly injection (87 per cent).

The findings, conducted in the United States (U.S.), Germany, Canada, Spain and France, were presented at the annual meeting of the International AIDS Society in Paris.

Also, certain bacteria underneath the foreskin increase the risk of contracting HIV by 63 percent, new research reveals.

A 10-fold increase in oxygen-starved bacterial species Prevotella, Dialister, Mobiluncus and Murdochiella raises the likelihood of being infected with the virus from 54 to 63 percent, a study found.

According to the research team at George Washington University, these bacteria cause specific immune cells to accumulate at the penis and act as a ‘gateway’ for HIV to enter the body.

The unprecedented study, unveiled at this week’s annual meeting of the International AIDS Society in Paris, mirrors what has been detected in women: that an imbalance in genital bacteria can increase HIV risk.

Experts say the findings may explain why circumcision cuts the risk of bacteria, since these anaerobic bacteria would not flourish outside of the moist oxygen-starved foreskin.

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