This Rx Might Help Prevent HIV

Maraviroc appeared to help prevent HIV infection

(RxWiki News) An ounce of prevention is a good thing when it comes to HIV infection.

Maraviroc, an oral medication used to treat HIV infection, may help with that. The drug has been under study in a clinical trial. The authors of this study found that, when taken consistently, maraviroc prevented HIV infections in men who had sex with men.

Clinical trials are used to test the safety and effectiveness of treatment after animal testing has been completed. Study participants are volunteers. Rather than using the medication after an infection had already started, the latest trial looked at whether maraviroc could actually prevent HIV infection.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. Once an infection occurs, HIV eventually becomes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS damages the immune system and leaves people susceptible to various infections.

Although medications can help control HIV and AIDS, there is no cure for either condition.

The clinical trial was led by Roy Gulick, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

At this time, the only known preventive medication for HIV is a daily medication called Truvada. Truvada, which contains tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for HIV prevention.

Truvada and maraviroc act differently in the body. Truvada doesn't begin to work until the HIV virus has already entered the body's cells.

Maraviroc is meant to block HIV from entering the cells in the first place. Maraviroc also concentrates in the rectum and genital tract, which are the most likely points of entry for the HIV virus.

Dr. Gulick and colleagues studied 406 men who had sex with men. Patients were at least 18 years old.

The patients were placed in one of four groups. The first group took maraviroc alone, and the second group took maraviroc plus TDF. The third group took maraviroc plus emtricitabine, and the fourth group took Truvada alone.

Only five patients in this study developed HIV. Those patients had low blood levels of the medication, which suggested they may not have been taking the medication consistently.

These researchers found that maraviroc alone was as effective and well-tolerated as Truvada. However, another part of the trial suggested maraviroc might not be as effective as a combined medicine regimen.

Further trials are planned, including a trial for women who may be at risk of developing HIV.

This study was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded this trial. Information on conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
February 26, 2016