HIV reprieve for women

New injection to stop infection launched

Scientists have come up with a new HIV prevention prevention injection for women.
Scientists have come up with a new HIV prevention prevention injection for women.
Image: 123RF/LEO LINTANG

Sub-Saharan Africa women who are still under siege from high rate of HIV infection can give a sigh of relieve following the breakthrough announcement yesterday about the new prevention injection.

The announcement was made at the University of the Witwatersrand in conjuction with researchers from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).

It was revealed that initial results emanating from clinical trials of the new preventive medicine demonstrate that taking an injection once every eight weeks is more effective than taking a daily pill to prevent HIV infection.

The trials, known as the HPTN 084, were headed by Dr Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, a research professor and a director of research at the Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute.

The HPTN is a worldwide collaborative clinical trials’ network that brings together investigators, community members and other partners to develop and test the safety and efficacy of interventions designed to prevent the acquisition and transmission of HIV.

“The results from HPTN 084 are incredibly important for women in Africa where lowering HIV incidence remains a priority,” said Delany-Moretlwe. 

“We know that adherence to a daily pill continues to be challenging, and an effective injectable product such as long-acting CAB is a very important additional HIV prevention option for them. We are grateful to the women who volunteered for this study and the research staff, as this study would not have been possible without their commitment to HIV prevention.”

HPTN 084 enrolled 3,223 women at research sites in Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Fifty-seven percent of the participants were under the age of 25 while 82% were not living with a partner. 

“This announcement demonstrates the important role that research entities and research-intensive universities play in transforming society and saving human lives. Congratulations to the Wits RHI team for leading world-class research from Africa that addresses the burden of disease on the continent – this incredible breakthrough will certainly save the lives of many women living in sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond,” said Prof Zeblon Vilakazi, vice-chancellor and principal designate of Wits University.

The dean of the faculty of health sciences at Wits, Prof Martin Veller, said: “The outcome of this research is again a confirmation that South Africa has the ability to compete and collaborate with the best in the world. It is research such as this that will contribute to saving and improving the lives of millions of people around the world – and especially in Africa.”

The HPTN 084 study is jointly funded through a unique partnership of NIAID, NIMH the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and ViiV Healthcare.

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