The Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) has announced a breakthrough in HIV prevention.
The trial conducted by researchers from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), known as HPTN 084, was headed by Dr Sinead Denaly- Moretlwe, a research professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.
The institution says the initial results emanating from clinical trials demonstrate that taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen of long-acting cabotegravir (CAB LA) injections once every eight weeks is more effective than taking a daily pill to prevent HIV infection among women in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The results from HPTN 084 are incredibly important for women in Africa where lowering HIV incidence remains a priority,” she says.
Dr Delany-Moretlwe says both the injections were safe and had no severe side effects. She says the next step for the study is to allow participants to learn about the medication they were taking.
Delany-Moretlwe says the breakthrough is a shared success for Sub Saharan Africa at large.
“We know that adherence to a daily pill continues to be challenging, and an effective injectable product such as long-acting CAB is a very important additional HIV prevention option for them. We are grateful to the women who volunteered for this study and the research staff, as this study would not have been possible without their commitment to HIV prevention.”
About 3 223 cisgender women from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated in the study. Seventy percent of the participants were under the age of 25.
“If we are to turn the tide on the HIV epidemic, we will need prevention options that work for women in sub-Saharan Africa. These findings provide great hope and motivation for additional studies to show safety and acceptability in adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women,” says Executive Director of Wits RHI, Professor Helen Rees.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal Designate of Wits University, has congratulated the team for the milestone.
“This announcement demonstrates the important role that research entities and research-intensive universities play in transforming society and saving human lives. Universities like Wits continue to generate high-quality, locally-relevant knowledge that match and exceed global standards. Congratulations to the Wits RHI team for leading world-class research from Africa that addresses the burden of disease on the continent – this incredible breakthrough will certainly save the lives of many women living in sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond,” he says.
Wits University is recognised as a global leader in HIV research and has contributed a vast amount of knowledge in the fight against the pandemic. – Report by VOW FM News’ Boitumelo Anastasi Mokgobu