Long-Acting Injectable PrEP Proves More Effective Than Daily Pill

"This agent really could contribute to the goal of ending AIDS by 2030."

Cabotegravir, a long-acting injectable version of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), could become the next advancement in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

A clinical trail ofcabotegravir, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), began in December 2016 and enrolled more than 4,500 participants worldwide. According to Reuters, the drug trial involved transgender women and cisgender men who have sex with other men (MSM), but was “stopped early by an independent monitoring board after cabotegravir was found to be 69% more effective than the current standard of care, Truvada.” The study was later disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Cabotegravir was injected every two months and proved to “powerfully protect” HIV-negative people from the disease. The injections were deemed “safe and well-tolerated, with reactions at the injection site in the buttocks being a primary ’adverse event’ in the latter group.”

Astrid Riecken/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

“It’s really exciting,” said Jared Baeten, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who was involved with previous PrEP studies. “It gives another option for people who can’t or don’t want to take daily pills.”

According to a March 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35% of gay and bisexual American men at a high risk of contracting HIV are now on a daily PrEP regimen.

Myron Cohen, co–principal investigator of NIAID’s HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), said that “with cabotegravir lasting at least a couple of months, we’re moving in the direction of providing people with some of the benefits of a vaccine.”

A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), cabotegravir’s drugmaker, said it “will speak to drug regulators about a possible approval of cabotegravir based on the prevention trial,” which means we are probably a ways off from an injectable version of PrEP becoming available to the general public. Still, its success in clinical trials is hopeful.

“This agent really could contribute to the goal of ending AIDS by 2030,” Cohen added.

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