After missing from the public eye for quite a long while, HIV has made a recent comeback. This is owed to multiple factors – the disease becoming resistant to the medicine used to treat it, a spike in the number of infections, and even a conference that was held last week in Boston dealing with treatment and prevention.
Although not nearly as big of a death warrant as it was in the ‘80s, AIDS is still one of those illnesses that completely overturns your life. And despite treatments being devised to prevent its spread, they still have quite a few flaws. For example, in a recent study from the University of North Carolina, researchers showed that Truvada is required in different quantities for men and women.
Published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the study will actually make a huge impact on HIV prevention research as it almost completely overturns previous testing parameters. Clinical trials from now will have to be designed and carried out with this new data in mind.
While previous studies have shown in the past that Truvada was better at reducing the chances of contracting HIV in men than it was in women, it was unclear why. Now, the new study doesn’t only show the exact reason for that, but it also provides a clear formula for how much medicine is required for each type of tissue.
You, the issue is with the type of DNA that has to be protected from the disease. Basically, the three types of tissue involved in the study, vaginal, cervical, and anal, all require different quantities of the medicine in order to be protected, with vaginal and cervical tissue requiring double the amount of medicine than anal.
Because of this, women have to take daily doses of the drug in order to stay safe, while men are safe with two or three doses per week. According to lead author Mackenzie Cottrell,
The more DNA material there is available for HIV to work with, the more medicine is needed to block the process. In essence, we calculated the most effective drug-to-DNA ratio for each tissue type.
By using human cells in a test tube, the team managed to figure out exactly how much Truvada each type of tissue needs. They also had human trials, giving the medicine to people and measuring how much tissue they were dealing with and how much of the drug was retained in the tissue. This is how the team came up with the formula.
The senior author of the study, Angela Kashuba, also wanted to offer a reminder:
We would like to remind people who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis that Truvada should be taken every day to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV infection. Patients should not change their medication regimen without first consulting their physicians.
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