|Written By:Carol Gakii/Wangari Kanyongo, Posted: Thu, Jul 14, 2011|
A new strategy to prevent HIV infection has been unveiled.
The strategy if approved by relevant authorities will reduce the risks of HIV infection among discordant couples and heterosexuals by between 63 percent and 73 percent.
Kenyan researchers in collaboration with the International Clinical Research Center, University of Washington (U.S.A) have successfully developed drugs that if well administered can prevent an HIV negative person from getting infected.
The pills Tenofovir and FTC which is a combination of Tenofovir and emtricitabine were under research from July 2008 to November 2010.
Speaking during the launch of the research findings Thursday, Doctors Nelly Mugo and James Kiarie who were among the chief investigators said the drugs were taken daily by the participants as preventive therapy.
However, researchers say the drug is not a 100 percent effective and have appealed to Kenyans to observe safe sexual practices
The pre exposure prophylaxis study involved 4,758 sexually active HIV discordant couples this being the largest risk group accounting for over 60% of new infections in Africa.
They were enrolled in 9 clinical sites in Uganda and Kenya where the partners who were not infected were put under 3 groups of medication.
One group was under Tenofovir, another group took emtricitabine/tenofovir while the third took placebo which is an inactive tablet that contains no medicine.
The uninfected participants were tested every month for HIV and until May this year, 78 of them were infected, 13 under TDF, 18 under the combination of TDF/FTC while 47 were those assigned to placebo which was stopped today.
The first group had an average of 62% fewer infections while the 2nd group has 73% fewer infections. The combination regime of ARVs suggests that a couple in which one partner is HIV positive stand to live a fulfilling life and bear children without infecting the entire family.
Researchers are hoping that this breakthrough will inspire the search for an ultimate vaccine to prevent HIV infections in future.