HIV Prevention Shot Every 1 to 3 Months May Soon Replace Pills Like Truvada

New U.S. research on monkeys suggests that a shot injected every one to three months could replace daily pills for those taking HIV prevention medicines like Truvada, AFP reports:

TruvadaIn one of the studies, conducted at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers gave a monthly shot of an experimental, delayed-effect antiretroviral drug called GSK744 to six female monkeys.

Twice a week they inserted into their vagina a liquid containing a human-simian immunodeficiency virus to simulate their having had intercourse with an infected male.

None of the females treated with GSK744 became infected, but six from a control group that were treated with a placebo all became infected quickly.

The other researchers, from the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at the Rockefeller University in New York, tested the same drug on 15 monkeys, but this time exposing them to the risk of anal infection. The results were identical — none of the treated animals was infected, but all those on placebo were infected.

The drug was developed by the British pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline.

In related news, Rich Juzwiak tested out Truvada and presents his thoughts on the drug and thoughts about barebacking and safe sex in a lengthy post over at Gawker.

Juzwiak had some pretty eye-opening thoughts on how the drug affected him physically:

Unfortunately, I discovered that taking Truvada gave me too many new things to feel. Whatever short-term side effects I could get, I did. Less than a week out, I started to feel a deep sense of fatigue every day around 6 p.m. It was something I could power through and eventually shake, but it made me feel like dropping to the floor and passing out instead of going to the gym or attending movie screenings. I had perpetual muscle soreness, especially in my legs, as if I had squatted way more than I should have the day before. My skin got worse. I developed a disgusting, raised rash on my torso that my dermatologist told me was the result of a nickel allergy (I had been wearing the culprit belt for years). I was gassy.

Truvada gets compared the birth control pill a lot. To me, what it had most in common with that contraception was that it was something that was supposed to help people relax about sex, yet it made me more uptight, more self-conscious.

My time on Truvada wasn't a particularly promiscuous time for me, anyway. And soon after starting to take it, I found myself in a relationship that got pretty serious pretty quickly. In that sense, I guess, Truvada did incentivize bareback sex, but it was bareback sex that I would have been having eventually anyway. To me, the freedom to go raw is a prime advantage of monogamy.

I was prepared to take Truvada indefinitely, though, even with the side effects, which seemed to ebb a bit as time went on. I could never be sure, too, what was a result of the Truvada and what was my body just doing bodily bullshit, or even worse, psychosomatic bullshit. Sometimes I get a zit or two for no reason, despite my daily use of a retinoid. That's life.

In that respect, the constant evaluation and causal uncertainty reminded me of the way I regarded by body before I was on Truvada, when every sneeze and cough could be a sign of illness. A-choo! (Is that HIV?) Cough, cough. (Is that HIV?) It will take a drug far stronger than Truvada to rid gay men of their body consciousness and paranoia.

The day I discontinued my Truvada use was the day I woke up with a migraine so bad that I threw up as a result of the pain, despite zero nausea. It felt like a small monster was attempting to pop itself out of my head through my right eye.


  1. Gary says

    Juzwiak had a cluster headache, not a migraine. The pain behind one eye is a dead giveaway. I had them frequently when I was younger and would often vomit before the headache went away. Cluster headaches are idiopathic and almost entirely untreatable. There’s no poosible way the headache could have been related to Truvada.

  2. AmericanDreamer says

    Do medical plans pay for Truvada as a preventative measure?

    If it is as expensive as HIV medication for people with HIV or AIDS it seems like a stretch to expect medical plans to pay for it when people can just practice safe sex.

    It seems like the target audience for Truvada should be people already in a long term relationship with an HIV positive individual.

  3. somebody says

    I have not had very bad side effects from Truvada. With insurance, I paid $80 for a 30-day supply of 30 pills, but the label said the retail price was $1,550 which is like $52 per pill.

  4. SBK says

    I used Truvada for PrEP. Had zero side effects. And yes, insurance covers it for PrEP. In my case it was completely free, when paired with Gilead’s copayment assistance card.

  5. crispy says

    Roger (formerly known as Jason) has been spouting this garbage here for years. He believe that AIDS is caused by poppers and promiscuous behavior. He’s a complete nutter.

    It’s unfortunate that he’s given a podium here.

  6. Gregory In Seattle says

    @Roger – I came out in March of 1983, not quite six months after the CDC coined the name “Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome.” I was 15. By the time I turned 21, many of my friends and mentors were dead. I visited many of them in hospices, and saw first hand the effects of AIDS. Then AZT was approved in 1987 as the first drug against HIV. And you know what?


    Yes, the drugs have side effects. Yes, the side effects can be pretty harsh in some people. But the fact is, people stopped dying once those drugs were available. Before the drugs, a diagnosis of HIV led to AIDS and death within a few years, barring a vanishingly few number of long-term non-progressors. After the drugs, survival rates have climbed to 100% among people able to get them, and remains low among people unable to get them.

    What more proof do you need?

  7. jonathan says

    I’m in a sero-discordant 14-year relationship. I take Truvada as PrEP. I’ve had absolutely no side effects and neither has my husband. It think what this person describes is all in his head. He sounds like a neurotic mess. And yes, it is covered by insurance.

  8. booka says

    vDear Roger, For almost 30 years time, the beginning of which I got to see most of my friends and Lovers, go without any meds,and, like clock work get very very sick, and die, always in systematically horrific ways. Those experiences have proven to me, that although pharmaceutical companies might have avarice and greed as their main motives, conspiracy theories are total Bull. Personally, I have been a lab rat for most of the drugs now in play, and as such been subject to the idiocy of Doctors, and well meaning advocates. Side effects? I’ve had just about all of them, in one form or another, but the one thing that has been proven to me over and over, is that those whackos on the sidelines screaming “It’s all a lie!” with their stubborn insistence that they know better, has proven to be a joke that has no humor in it. I’ve gone off Meds, I’ve seen the results, and still I’ve been open minded enough to question every concept…all to just try and keep my life and body together, and through all of that, I have been lucky enough to prosper, due mostly to my flexibility and common sense. There might be things that are wrong with treatment, but, HIV, it’s natural progress, and it’s connection to the AIDS scenario has proven to be entirely correct. Those are FACTS no one has sold me, but, FACTS I’ve seen and have proven themselves true, time and time again. So, when I came across a couple guys 3 years ago that prided themselves as total rebels, with “certain” knowledge of the grand “hoax” of HIV, backed up by dubious literature, I was horrified, and took them to task for their theories. I still have in my head the vision of these red faced, vitriolic “truth seekers” pointing their fingers in my face, telling me my experiences were nothing but muddled, deliberate malicious lies. Fast forward a couple of years, the result: One of them is dead, the other has STFU. This wasn’t funny to me, I was forced to witness something so predictable, and ugly that it make me just as angry as they were once about the “Fraud” of HIV. With that recent experience in mind, I would like to ask of you that you either just STFU, OR go ahead and prove the garbage you sold yourself on, but until the time you have that “Proof”, just keep it entirely to yourself. Good Luck.

  9. Bill says

    Just as a point of order, the idea that we’ll see something soon is almost certainly not true, as clinical trials would be required first. If GSK744 is an experimental drug, it would first have to shown to work in animals, then there would be a small-scale test to make sure it is safe (no horrendous side effects), and then larger-scale tests. All that takes time, and is what typically occurs before the FDA approves a drug. And after all that, they have to gear up to manufacture it in quantity.

    It is, however, an interesting result, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to start dumping stock they might own in condom companies at this point.

  10. Not That Rob says

    @Bill “If GSK744 is an experimental drug, it would first have to shown to work in animals”

    This post was literally about how this worked in monkeys…

    And if you actually click on the link and read the article…”A first clinical trial with 175 people is expected to begin later this year in the United States, Brazil, South Africa and Malawi with GSK744″

  11. Samish says

    Not all insurance companies cover Truvada. Some do, some do not.

    Also, to the point above about how they hope this leads to a cure for HIV positive people – am I reading this wrong or is this about a drug to prevent infection? What does this have to do with a cure (which I agree, is much needed, but less likely to come than prevention drugs).

    I think I’m too neurotic to ever trust a drug though I certainly think every measure of prevention is worthwhile. And what happens when the virus mutates its way around this in 20 years and there’s a new surge of infections because we’ve unchained ourselves from condom use? I suppose I also don’t want the clap either, so I can’t see this reducing my use of condoms, though I definitely think this is useful for partners with different statuses. I just wonder without widespread use how long it can be affordable? Or even produced?

  12. Anon says

    A phase 2b study of oral (pill) GSK744 in humans for treatment has already been completed and was reported today at the same conference. The study is called the LATTE study in case anyone’s interested. The next study looking at injectable long acting 744 and rilpivirine.

  13. Gary says

    Early results from the PARTNER study were reported at CROI today. They found zero cases of HIV transmission over two years in 767 serodiscordant couples where the positive partner maintained a viral load under 200 copies/ml. Given that treatment as prevention is nearly 100% effective, I wouldn’t suggest Truvada to a negative partner, but it’s a must for anyone who is unsure of any of their partners’ serological status and doesn’t use condoms 100% of the time. People who worry about Truvada’s side effects are forgetting that they can stop PrEP whenever they want. That’s a major advantage over PEP and a option most of us taking nukes for chronic HIV infection would love to have.

  14. Graphicjack says

    Until there’s a cure, keep using condoms. Is that really so hard? Why the hell would we want to put toxic pills in our bodies that can cause awful side effects, just so we can feel better about engaging in riskier behaviour? Sorry… Barebacking is causing rates of HIV infections to climb, especially among younger generations who don’t see people dying anymore, think they are invincible, and see a flood of bareback porn saturating the market. Since there is no cure, and pills are no picnic, I’m fine with a condom.

  15. Bill says

    @ Not That Rob : You are another person with a reading comprehension problem. If, instead of clicking on links, you would actually read something substantive, you might find out that “clinical trials” go in stages, first checking for safety, and later for effectiveness, and the whole process typically takes many years to complete.

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