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Researchers develop implant that could prevent HIV infection for a year

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A new implant containing a drug that reportedly protects against HIV infection for a full year has been developed and tested.

Following clinical tests, the new implant, which is produced by Merck, an American multinational pharmaceutical company, was reported to have the potential to revolutionalize the long-standing battle against the disease.

In the implant is a drug called islatravir which is reported to be 10 times as potent as any previous HIV drug such that tiny amounts are effective and linger in the body for relatively long periods.

When the implant is used, the Islatravir is absorbed into anal and genital tissues where most infections start as the capsule slowly releases tiny doses of the medication.

The company announced the results of a phase 1 trial of the implant on Tuesday, saying it was “well tolerated” and effective at delivering an HIV-preventing medication.

During the drug’s research description at an international AIDS conference held in Mexico City, Anthony Fauci, director at National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a larger trial would, however, be needed for further confirmation.

“If — and I’m emphasizing if — if it pans out in a larger trial that it delivers a level of drug that’s protective for a year, that would be a game-changer,” the AIDS expert said.

“It seems ideal in many respects. It can be removed if there are side effects or HIV infection,” added Robert Grant, lead researcher at the University of California.

An estimated 75 million people have contracted AIDS since the epidemic began and about 1.7 million people become infected annually despite awareness about the need for condoms and sexual abstinence as preventive measures.


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