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Cabotegravir, a long-acting, injectable version of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), could become the next advancement in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

According to Newnownext, A clinical trail of cabotegravir, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) began in December 2016 and enrolled more than 4,500 participants worldwide. According to Reuters, the drug trial involved transgender women and cisgender men who have sex with other men (MSM), but was “stopped early by an independent monitoring board after cabotegravir was found to be 69 percent more effective than the current standard of care, Truvada.” The study was later disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The drug was injected every two months and showed positive feedback to “powerfully protect” people from HIV. The injections were deemed “safe and well-tolerated, with reactions at the injection site in the buttocks being a primary ’adverse event’ in the latter group.”

“It’s really exciting,” said Jared Baeten, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who was involved with previous PrEP studies. “It gives another option for people who can’t or don’t want to take daily pills.”

According to a March 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of gay and bisexual, American men at a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS are now on a daily PrEP regimen.

Truvada, the common, daily pill for those with HIV/AIDS, generated $2.8 billion in sales last year, both from treatment and preventing an HIV infection

Kimberly Smith, ViiV’s head of research, said a long-acting injection was a better route of administering, since users have shown to struggle with a strict routine of daily pills, heightening the infection risk.

“Individuals have to show up every eight weeks in the clinic for the injection, but in-between, there is not a need to take a pill daily, so you really change the equation for adherence with a long-acting (drug),” Smith said.

A similar trial to test the cabotegravir injection to prevent HIV/AIDS in cisgender women is still ongoing.

A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), cabotegravir’s drugmaker, said it “will speak to drug regulators about a possible approval of cabotegravir based on the prevention trial,” which basically means that we still have a way to go before seeing the injection become available, yet the clinical trials prove that we should be hopeful. 

“This agent really could contribute to the goal of ending AIDS by 2030,” said Myron Cohen, co-principal investigator of NIAID’s HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).