In an exciting development, the first human trial of a new HIV-prevention implant has recently been completed by the pharmaceutical company MSD.
The implant could potentially offer an alternative means of delivery for PrEP drugs, which can prevent an individual from contracting HIV. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, offers a way for people who do not currently have HIV but who are at a high risk of contracting the disease to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. People who are at high risk of contracting HIV include intravenous drug users and individuals whose sexual partners have HIV.
The disadvantage of this method, however, is that patients have to remember to take PrEP pills every day. For some people that can be difficult, and many doctors are concerned about their patients’ adherence to the pills’ daily schedule.
The implant could one day offer a long-acting alternative to PrEP pills.
Similar to a contraceptive implant, the HIV-prevention implant would slowly release a PrEP drug over time. This is the first time the implant has been tested on humans, although animal trials had previously taken place.
The trial indicated that the implant was well-tolerated and that it could be effective for up to a year. In the trial, 12 healthy adults were given an active implant, and four were given a placebo. Further trials will evaluate larger populations.
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