Trial to compare injection to daily pills for HIV prevention

Richard M. Novak

Richard Novak, professor and chief of infectious disease in the College of Medicine.

UIC will begin recruiting participants for a clinical trial to compare the efficacy of a newly-developed injectable drug to prevent new infections of the HIV virus with Truvada, the only FDA-approved drug currently available to prevent the spread of HIV.

Truvada, approved in 2012, is a pill that is taken every day to prevent becoming infected with HIV, said Richard Novak, the Harry F. Dowling Professor and chief of infectious disease in the UIC College of Medicine and principal investigator on
the grant.

“The number one reason that Truvada fails to prevent the transmission of HIV is when it’s not taken consistently every day as prescribed,” Novak said.

Cabotegravir is an injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis administered once every two months.

“If people only need to get a shot once every two months instead of having to remember to take pills every day, we think that the rate of transmission among those on the injectable will decrease,” Novak said.

To determine the efficacy of cabotegravir compared to Truvada, Novak and colleagues will be recruiting participants to the HPTN 083 study, a multinational trial that will enroll approximately 4,500 HIV-uninfected men who have sex with men and transgender women at risk for acquiring HIV infection, ages 18 or older at sites in the Americas, Asia and South Africa. Novak hopes to enroll approximately 60 patients in Chicago.

At UIC, the trial will be conducted by Project WISH, the clinical trials research arm of the UIC College of Medicine’s division of infectious disease. The trial is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is part of their HIV Prevention Trials Network.

“If the trial is successful, Cabotegravir may have a huge impact in curtailing HIV transmission in the future,” Novak said.

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