Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

02 August 2011

Antiretroviral prevention methods 'not in competition' with each other

Via AIDSMap, by Keith Alcorn.

Antiretroviral prevention methods are not in competition, and policy makers and providers need to start to thinking about how antiretrovirals, pre-exposure prophylaxis and microbicides will be provided as part of a combination prevention package – and who will benefit most from each method, delegates heard at a satellite meeting on the opening day of the Sixth International AIDS Society Conference (IAS 2011) in Rome.

“You don’t want to have the family planning clinic here, the pills clinic here, the injections clinic here, and the microbicides clinic over here,“ said Dr Stephen Becker of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Delegates were discussing the rapidly changing landscape of HIV prevention methods that use antiretroviral drugs. One year ago, at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, the world heard the results of the CAPRISA study, which showed that a microbicide gel containing tenofovir halved the risk of HIV infection in women who used the vaginal gel consistently.

Since then results from four studies have added to the array of prevention methods that exploit antiretroviral drugs to prevent transmission or acquisition of HIV infection:
  • The iPrEx study showed that taking the antiretroviral combination Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine (also known as FTC) reduced the risk of HIV infection in men who have sex with men by 44%.
  • The HPTN 052 study showed that early treatment reduced the risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected regular partner by at least 96%.
  • The Partners study showed pre-exposure prophylaxis with Truvada or with tenofovir alone reduced the risk of HIV infection by between 62% and 73%.
  • The TDF2 study showed that  pre-exposure prophylaxis with Truvada reduced the risk of infection by between 62% and 78%.
The first tenofovir-containing microbicide could receive regulatory approval by the end of 2013, subject to positive results from a confirmatory trial now taking place in South Africa. That study is testing exactly the same dosing regimen as that used in the CAPRISA study, the so-called BAT 24 dosing schedule: one dose Before, one After, and no more than Two doses in 24 hours.

A second CAPRISA study (008) is testing the roll-out of tenofovir gel through family planning clinics in KwaZulu-Natal, comparing the monthly testing and follow-up schedule used in the original CAPRISA study with a three-monthly schedule, in order to examine the feasibility and acceptability of providing a microbicide through existing health services that target sexually active women.

Although the South African government has already begun investing in the scale-up of production facilities to manufacture the gel, the extent of demand for the microbicide is still unclear. Studies of women’s’ attitudes towards the microbicide will be needed to gauge demand, but a lot of work will also be needed to develop demand – and to make sure that women understand how they could benefit from using the microbicide.

“We need to reach out to women who don’t perceive themselves to be at risk, and we should be getting communities to rally round to be early adopters of tenofovir gel,” said Samu Dube of the Global Campaign for MIcrobicides.

“We need to get the product to the places where women are: the family planning clinics, the immunisation centres, antenatal clinics. We also need to target the school health system.”

However, work will also be needed to convince the providers of those services that they have a role to play in expanding women’s opportunities to protect themselves from HIV infection.

Read the rest here.

[Content that is linked from other sources is for informational purposes and should not construe a Mapping Pathways position.]

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