HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been proven to prevent the spread of the virus by over 90%. The FDA approved drug has been selling under the brand name Truvada. However, a new brand Selzentry has been introduced in the market.
Truvada, which contains mtricitabine-tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, has so far been received well with minor side effects.
There was fear that Selzentry, which contains maraviroc would not be well tolerated among users. Preliminary studies, however, show that the drug is safe and women who are at risk of HIV infection have been tolerating it well.
Statistics show that there are over 2 million new infection cases reported around the world every year. Half of these new rates are among women. This has brought up the need to find new and effective strategies to prevent HIV infection among women.
New Drug Viable for HIV PrEP
A study led by Roy M. Gulick a researcher from Weill Cornell Medicine found that the new drug approved for HIV treatment is also viable for HIV prevention. Selzentry is a CCR5 inhibitor that antagonises HIV entry.
The study by Gulick and colleagues was a controlled, double-blinded study that aimed at determining the safety and tolerability of Selzentry that contains maraviroc. The study involved women risk of contracting HIV.
The women were studied from one of the clinical research sites of the HIV Prevention Trials Network and AIDS Clinical Trials Group sites. The study involved 188 HIV-negative women with a median age of 35.
65% of the women were Black, 27% were white and 17% were Latina. The women reported at the start of the study that they had engaged in viginal or anal sex with at least one male partner without the use of a condom.
The researchers assigned the women randomly to receive 48 weeks of one of four PrEP regimens. These were:
- Selzentry and Viread
- Selzentry and Truvada
All the women took three tablets daily.
85% of the women finished the study up to the final follow-up stage. 19% stopped taking their PrEP regime before 48 weeks ended. 11% pulled out of the study early while 4% were lost to follow-up.
When it came to side effects, 13% of those receiving Selzentry and Viread experienced adverse side effects while 9% of those on Selzentry and Truvada, 8% on Truvada and 5% on Selzentry experienced the same symptoms. One of the women committed suicide during the study but researchers concluded her death was not related to the study drug.
No HIV Cases Reported During the Study
From the results, the lowest number of women who experienced adverse side effects were from the group taking Selzentry bringing the researchers to conclude that the drug was safe and well-tolerated among the participants.
None of the women participating in the study contracted HIV. The researchers, however, call for longer trials to completely determine the efficiency of the new HIV PrEP drug in preventing the transmission of the virus.
The Basics of HIV PrEP
PrEP is supposed to be taken by HIV negative people to prevent them from getting the infection. Unlike HIV post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) taken after a person has been exposed to HIV, PrEP is taken continuously even when exposure has not happened yet.
Numerous studies conducted around the world indicate that if PrEP is taken daily, according to instruction, it prevents HIV transmission by over 90%.