PARIS: A two-drug cocktail injected every month or two may be just as effective as a daily pill at keeping the AIDS virus under control, said a study Monday that promised relief for millions.
At present people have no option but to take lifelong, daily doses of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) which keeps the HIV virus under control, but does not kill it.
People who forget to take their medication run the risk of the virus rebounding to make them ill, or developing resistance to the drugs they were using — which would require a more expensive replacement.
In an ongoing study, nearly 300 HIV-positive people were given an initial course of daily pills to bring the virus under control.
Once this was achieved, some continued taking oral treatment as maintenance while the rest were shifted onto the prototype, injectable ARV, administered every four or eight weeks.
At 96 weeks, the virus was still subdued in 84 percent of the pill-taking group, 87 percent in the four-weekly injectable group, and 94 percent in the eight-weekly group.
The results were published in The Lancet medical journal to coincide with an HIV science conference in Paris of the International AIDS Society.
In 2016, there were some 36.7 million people living with HIV of whom 19.5 million had access to ART, according to UNAIS.
The UN recommends ART for all HIV-positive people.
Leaders in the fight against HIV urged the US government, the largest donor to global AIDS research and treatment, to reject “draconian” funding cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.
Any funding lapse, they said, will be counted in human lives.
“As we gather today, the largest and most important donor in HIV response has threatened devastating cuts to funding for research and treatment programmes,” International AIDS Society president Linda-Gail Bekker told a global HIV science conference in Paris.
“Draconian cuts to research and… HIV funding is a catastrophe we cannot afford to see happen,” she said.