News :: AIDS

Once-a-Month HIV Drug Injection on Horizon

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Mar 9, 2012
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A first trial in humans for a once-a-month injectable HIV drug found that drug levels were kept at a high enough level to protect people against the deadly virus. In addition, according to research that was presented at the 19th Conference on Opportunistic Infections, the new drug produces very few side effects, AidsMap.com reported.

The trial was conducted at the St. Stephen’s AIDS Trust (SSAT) at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Twenty-seven women and six men were given a single injection of the long-acting formulation drug rilpivirine -- a drug that was first released as an oral HIV treatment last year as Edurant.

SSAT gave the women, who were HIV-negative and were between the ages 18 and 50, one of three doses of the long-acting rilpivirine: 300, 600 or 1200mg. Over the next 12 weeks, drug levels were monitored in the women’s blood, vaginal fluid and vaginal tissue samples. The six men were given 600mg of the long-acting rilpivirine and their drug levels were monitored in their blood, rectal fluid and rectal tissue samples.

After 30 days of the first injection, the results showed that the drug levels were about 80 percent higher in vaginal fluid than in the blood of woman who were given a 300mg dose and about 20 percent higher in the other two doses. Drug levels in vagina tissue were about a quarter lower in blood and 50 percent lower up to day 14 in the 300mg dose group.

AidsMap.com points out that it may be an ideal drug, as users would not have to remember to take it daily.

"There is an obvious need in HIV prevention and treatment for formulations that reduce the need for the user to depend on daily administration," Akil Jackson, a research said. Jackson also said that the results were still in the early stages and did not say what dose would be the most protective against HIV.

The patients experienced very few side effects. Some did encounter tenderness and swelling at the injection site, but there were no allergic reactions, psychological symptoms or effects on heart rate.

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