Antiretroviral Drugs May Halt HIV Spread in Heterosexuals

Studies find that daily use may prevent HIV acquisition in unaffected heterosexuals

WEDNESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- A daily oral dose of antiretroviral drugs used for the treatment of HIV infection may reduce HIV acquisition among uninfected individuals exposed to the virus through heterosexual sex, according to the results of a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, the TDF2 study, along with the results of a separate trial (Partners Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis [PrEP] study).

In the TDF2 study, 1,219 HIV-uninfected heterosexual male and female participants, aged 18 to 39 years, in Botswana were randomized to a daily tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) pill or a placebo pill. The data revealed that the once-daily tablet containing TDF/FTC reduced the risk of acquiring HIV infection by 63 percent overall.

The results of the Partners PrEP study, from the University of Washington in Seattle, also confirmed that daily oral antiretroviral drugs reduced HIV transmission among heterosexual couples in Kenya and Uganda. According to the results, two separate antiretroviral regimens -- tenofovir and TDF/FTC -- significantly reduced HIV transmission among couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not. The trial was stopped early due to the strong evidence of effectiveness.

"These are exciting results for global HIV prevention. We now have findings from two studies showing that PrEP can work for heterosexuals, the population hardest hit by HIV worldwide," Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement. "Taken together, these studies provide strong evidence of the power of this prevention strategy."

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