Drug Combination May Prevent HIV Acquisition

Taking the antiretroviral drugs daily appears effective in men who have sex with men

TUESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Taking two oral antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC-TDF), once a day may prevent the acquisition of HIV in men who have sex with men, according to a study published online Nov. 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Robert M. Grant, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues randomized 2,499 HIV-seronegative men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive the FTC-TDF combination or placebo once daily, and followed them for 3,324 person-years.

The investigators found 10 patients to be infected with HIV at enrollment, with 100 patients becoming infected during follow-up. This included 36 receiving FTC-TDF and 64 receiving placebo, indicating a 44 percent reduction in HIV incidence in the drug combination group. In the combination group, the drug was detected in 22 of 43 of seronegative patients (51 percent) and in three of 34 HIV-infected patients (9 percent). Compared to patients receiving placebo, those receiving FTC-TDF reported nausea more frequently during the first four weeks of treatment. Serious adverse events were similar between the two groups.

"Oral FTC-TDF provided protection against the acquisition of HIV infection among the subjects. Detectable blood levels strongly correlated with the prophylactic effect," the authors write.

Study drugs were donated by Gilead Sciences Inc.; several authors disclosed financial relationships with Gilead, including employment.

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