The first large-scale clinical trial of a long-acting injectable drug for HIV prevention began today. The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will examine whether a long-acting form of the investigational anti-HIV drug cabotegravir injected once every 8 weeks can safely protect men and transgender women from HIV infection at least as well as the anti-HIV medication Truvada taken daily as an oral tablet.
If injectable cabotegravir is found to be effective for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, it may be easier for some people to adhere to than daily oral Truvada, the only licensed PrEP regimen. Truvada consists of the two anti-HIV drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.
“We urgently need more HIV prevention tools that fit easily into people’s lives,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “Although daily oral Truvada clearly works for HIV prevention, taking a daily pill while feeling healthy can be difficult for some people. If proven effective, injectable cabotegravir has the potential to become an acceptable, discreet and convenient alternative for HIV prevention.”
NIAID is collaborating on the Phase 3 clinical trial of injectable cabotegravir with ViiV Healthcare, Gilead Sciences, Inc., and the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN). In a novel funding structure for an NIH HIV prevention study, NIAID and ViiV Healthcare are co-funding the trial. NIAID is sponsoring the study, called HPTN 083, and ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences are providing the study medications.
The study will enroll 4,500 men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men at 45 sites in eight countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Participants will be aged 18 years or older and at high risk for HIV infection. Results are expected in 2021.