GSK launches big study to test new injection for HIV prevention

GSK launches big study to test new injection for HIV prevention
PHOTO: Reuters

GlaxoSmithKline said on Tuesday its HIV unit ViiV Healthcare had started a large study to test an experimental long-acting injection for preventing the virus that causes AIDS.

Reuters reported last month that the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) study with cabotegravir was about to start.

The Phase III study aims to enrol 4,500 men who have sex with men, and transgender women who have sex with men, at more than 40 sites in North and South America, Asia and Africa. A second study involving young women is due to start in 2017.

The trial comes hard on the heels of news that GSK's new two-drug HIV tablet therapy successfully controlled HIV in two late-stage trials.

HIV and immunity

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    HIV is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

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    The HIV virus causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

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    You can't get HIV through mosquito bites, sharing a cup or utensils with a person infected with HIV or sharing room space either.

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    HIV can also be spread through contact with infected blood (through blood transfusions)

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    or from mother to child during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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    You can't get HIV through ordinary contact like holding hands, touching, kissing, hugging or dancing with someone who has HIV or AIDS.

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    However, you can get it through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person.

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    Primary infection (acute HIV): Most people who are infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within one or two months after the virus enters the body. This illness may last for a few weeks.

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    Chronic HIV: There are no specific signs and symptoms, though some people can have swollen lymph nodes.

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    Early symptomatic HIV infection: Here, the HIV virus keeps on multiplying and destroying T-cells. The fever and flu-like symptoms may come back, along with the swollen lymph nodes, diarrhoea and oral yeast infection.

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    Progression to AIDS: This happens in 10 years from when you first got the HIV infection if you don't get treatment. The immune system is now severely damaged, and you are prone to all sorts of opportunistic infections that usually don't happen in normal healthy people.

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    There is still no cure, but a lot of anti-retroviral drugs can be used to control and slow down the spread and multiplication of the virus.

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