Long-Acting Raltegravir Prevents Vaginal HIV Transmission

APRIL 22, 2016
MD Magazine Staff
Pre-clinical study results appear to demonstrate the efficacy of a new long-acting formulation of the HIV medication raltegravir in preventing vaginal transmission of HIV in animal models. The study—from researchers in the division of infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine and collaborators from Merck—was published online on March 21, 2016 in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
Across the globe, vaginal transmission accounts for the majority of new HIV infections. Whereas pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the form of vaginal gels and vaginal rings have been shown to reduce HIV transmission in people at high risk of infection, problems with adherence have led to  poor efficacy in preventing HIV transmission. The current study was conducted with the hopes that long-acting raltegravir may help address these obstacles to adherence and help prevent vaginal HIV transmission. The agent is among long-acting injectable antiretrovirals that provide sustained systemic drug exposures over many weeks and require infrequent parenteral administration.
“Raltegravir is a well-tolerated drug with a strong track record of use for the treatment of HIV,” said lead author Martina Kovarova, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at UNC. “Changing its form from an oral pill to a subcutaneous injection produced a long-acting release of the drug that can be used for pre-exposure prophylaxis.”

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