Pharmaceutical company MSD has announced early but promising news regarding the first round of testing on humans for its PrEP implant, known as Islatravir, which could prevent HIV infection for up to a year.
The news was shared at the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City. The biennial conference is considered the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research and its applications.
Currently, PrEP is available as a daily oral medication. But researchers project the new implant will effectively deliver a slow, steady stream of anti-HIV meds for up to one year.
The implant would be placed under the skin of a patient’s arm. For those patients who find difficulty in adhering to a once-a-day dose, the new implant could represent a major benefit.
Additionally, a once-a-year choice would offer a more discreet option for patients who are concerned about the stigma of being on PrEP.
“Islatravir could be a game-changer for HIV prevention,” said Matthew Hodson, director of British HIV awareness group NAM. “PrEP is already extraordinarily effective at preventing HIV.”
The CDC reports that among men who have sex with men, taking PrEP daily or consistently (at least 4 times per week), reduces the risk of acquiring HIV by about 99 percent.
Hodson added, “I’m enthusiastic about Islatravir’s potential to make it easier for people to go on PrEP, and maintain levels of drug in the body necessary to provide protection for a year, without additional dosing.”
IAS President Anton Pozniak concurred, saying an implant offers “a promising solution to those who face challenges adhering to a daily PrEP regimen.”