Implant could revolutionise HIV treatment

07 May 2015
Stack of pills

A new way of administering antiretroviral treatment could revolutionise the current way people living with HIV take treatment. A new subdermal implant has been proven to be effective in the first 40 days, according to research published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

This new subdermal implant - which is roughly the size of a matchstick and works in a similar to the contraceptive implant – is inserted underneath the skin and delivers antiretroviral drugs to patients. As the implant constantly releases a small amount of treatment to the patient, it eliminates the need for people living with HIV to take treatment in the form of pills or to remember to take treatment regularly.

The implant is easily inserted and removed and provides a sustained release of Tenofovir, which prevents the HIV virus from replicating in the body, reducing the viral load to very low or undetectable levels. The implant uses Tenofovir Alafenamide, which is 10 times more effective than the more commonly used Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate, making the implant more effective. The first animal tests of the implant revealed no side effects within the first 40 days of use.

This new device will have a great impact on adherence levels and on the use of treatment as prevention. Research has shown that patients struggle to keep to treatment regimens due to various reasons. The development of this new implant will tackle one of the biggest factors for non-adherence, remembering to take treatment. Researchers are working on the development of a subdermal implant for HIV prevention that will remain effective for 12 months.

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