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Home » Health Information Videos, Information, News, Video News

Big HIV Prevention Study Halted, but Experts Won’t ‘Throw in the Towel’

Article / Review by on April 22, 2011 – 11:05 pmNo Comments

Big HIV Prevention Study Halted, but Experts Won’t ‘Throw in the Towel’

HIV-1 virions (green) can be seen on the surface of a lymphocyte. Image courtesy of the CDC
HIV-1 virions (green) can be seen on the surface of a lymphocyte. Image courtesy of the CDCs Public Health Image Library.

One of the most critical fronts in the war against AIDS is staving off future HIV infections. The challenge can be especially daunting within the most vulnerable populations – like African communities where women are sometimes subjected to sexual relations against their wills.

In fact, this particular population forms the study group for one of the most recently attempted prevention trials. Eager to arm these women with strategies to protect themselves, scientists recruited 1,900 female volunteers spread across Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania to help test if a daily pill (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, known by the brand name Truvada) could keep the virus in check. (In theory, the drug works not by stopping the virus from penetrating cells, but rather, by keeping viruses from turning the cells into all-out virus replication factories.)

Last week’s headlines, unfortunately, said early data shows that women taking the drug fared no better than those assigned a sugar pill.

Even so, experts like URMC’s Dr. Amneris Luque warn that a handful of similar prior studies are simply too encouraging for us to completely “throw in the towel” this time around.

Other confounding factors could be at play in this most recent trial, she warns. For instance, if women in the study didn’t take their pills vigilantly, that could explain the inefficacy. Or, Luque said, perhaps this has more to do with that fact that gel-type therapies applieddirectly to the vaginal/cervical area may do a better job of checking the virus than do mere pills.

To hear more of Dr. Luque’s insights  on the halted study, watch the clip below.

Amneris Luque, M.D., associate professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, serves as medical director for URMC’s AIDS Clinic. Under Luque’s leadership since 1994, the clinic has been designated by the New York State Department of Health as a “Center of Excellence” for more than two decades.

To learn more about HIV research underway at URMC, click here.


*  The above story is adapted from materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center


University of Rochester Medical Center

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