In June, Gilead Sciences announced great news about a new drug they are testing to prevent HIV.

Lenacapavir, an injection given twice a year, showed 100% success in stopping HIV infections in cisgender women. These are women whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

The study, named PURPOSE 1, which compared lenacapavir with a daily pill called Truvada, found lenacapavir to be better.

Following the positive results, the independent data monitoring committee, overseeing the study, recommended that Gilead stop the blinded phase of the trial and offer open-label lenacapavir to all participants.

Merdad Parsey, a doctor from Gilead Sciences, said: “With zero infections and 100% success, lenacapavir could be a powerful new tool to prevent HIV.”

He added that they were excited to continue their research and work towards ending HIV for everyone, everywhere.

The purpose programme, which includes five studies around the world, aims to find new ways to prevent HIV and involves communities in the process.

One part of the study took place in South Africa, led by Linda-Gail Bekker, who is a professor.

Speaking to Spotlight, a South African online publication covering health, Bekker said the trial included 5 000 people from South Africa and Uganda. They tested lenacapavir and two other drugs to see which one worked best.

Lenacapavir works by stopping HIV from replicating in the body and is given just under the skin every six months.

The study wanted to investigate if lenacapavir was safe and better than Truvada, a pill taken every day to prevent HIV.

They also tested Descovy to see if it was as good as Truvada. Descovy is already used by men and transgender women in wealthier countries.

Young women in eastern and southern Africa are at high risk for HIV. Many find it hard to take a daily pill due to social and other reasons.

Bekker stressed the need for effective prevention tools. She mentioned that 1.3 million new HIV infections happened globally last year. Although this was less than the 2 million in 2010, it was still too many to reach the goal of fewer than 500 000 new infections by 2025 or to end AIDS by 2030.

Preventing HIV isn’t just about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), Bekker explained, saying it’s also important to have other tools like HIV self-test, condoms, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception for women who can have children.

Bekker said:

Young men should be offered medical circumcision for health benefits.

Bekker highlighted that making the drug affordable was crucial for ensuring it reached the people who needed it most.

Janet Dorling, a senior vice-president at Gilead, told The New York Times that Gilead planned to work with other drug makers to produce cheaper versions of lenacapavir, sharing its intellectual property in exchange for a licensing fee.

Dorling explained that doing this could be available in low and middle income countries. Although it might take time for these companies to start making the drug, Gilead will try to send enough of the drug to these countries once it gets approval from health authorities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!