A new, large-scale clinical trial is examining whether antiretroviral medications normally used to treat HIV infection can also prevent HIV infection in women when applied as a vaginal gel or taken as oral tablets once daily.
The study, called Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) or MTN-003, will involve up to 5,000 HIV-uninfected women at risk for HIV infection in four African countries. The trial will test the safety and efficacy of two different HIV prevention strategies: an investigational microbicide gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir, and oral tablets containing tenofovir or a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine known by the brand name Truvada. The tablets would be taken prior to exposure in an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Testing a microbicide and PrEP in the same trial will enable scientists to directly compare the two strategies in terms of their safety and acceptability.
The premise behind PrEP is that taking an antiretroviral drug before exposure to HIV could potentially inhibit HIV replication immediately after exposure to the virus, thwarting permanent infection. This strategy is used globally to successfully prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to infant.
Notably, the VOICE study is the first efficacy study of an investigational microbicide in which participants apply the gel once daily rather than shortly before sexual intercourse.
For more information – HIV Information – Talk About HIV
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